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Athletics Department Launches New Web Site

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American University Athletics page screenshot

American University Athletics has a new online arena.

Featuring increased video capabilities and a sleek, compact look, the new launched Sept. 9.

“The look of the site reflects some of the new branding initiatives that we’ve gone through as a department over the last several years,” said David Bierwirth, senior associate athletic director. “The real highlight of the site is that it’s compact and user friendly.”

Visitors to the site immediately will notice the large “hero” image, a vibrant photo paired with a story about one of AU’s teams or the people that comprise them. Eight photos and stories continuously scroll through this main section.

Also featured prominently near the top of the page is Eagles Vision TV, AU’s subscription-based package that broadcasts games online. New this year is the capability to show both men’s and women’s action from Reeves Field.

There’s also a “Featured Videos” section, which has short pieces on everything from profiles of student-athletes to interviews to game highlights available on demand.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and personnel in video,” Bierwirth said. “Our ultimate goal with all the video that we’re shooting is to have our own channel, someplace you can go night and day year round for all the games and behind-the-scenes footage of American athletics.”

AU’s contract with its previous Web site host, CBS, expired in the spring, and the department decided to seek out a new company that would design a more vibrant, user-friendly site. After soliciting bids, it chose Presto Sports, a Rockville-based company that has designed athletic department sites for universities such as Harvard, Holy Cross, and Northern Arizona.

“They came to us with the idea to do something new, which was exciting,” said Ted Bardach, Presto’s vice president for business development. “It was a different design. We host about 185 college athletic Web sites, and a lot of them can look very similar. American came to us with this really outside-the-box idea, and our creative juices started flowing.”

One area in which that is evident is the photo of cheering AU fans that serves as the wallpaper on the homepage. The site also steers clear of the standard three-column design that can be found on many university athletic department Web sites. The bottom third of the screen has five distinct sections:

•    Eagles Spotlight
•    Alumni and Friends
•    Photos and Merchandise
•    Trophy Room
•    Stay Connected

The launch marked the culmination of lots of hard work by people throughout the university, Bierwirth said.

“Our staff has done a great job in terms of getting all the content on the site,” he said. “Also, the help of University Communications and Marketing was key.”

Displayed prominently across the top of the homepage is the department’s slogan: “Win. Learn. Lead.”

“One of the things the prominence of video is doing for our campus is giving great learning opportunities to our students,” Bierwirth said. “We have several student-athletes, kids who are studying in [the School of Communication] that are here manning the cameras, doing everything from camera work to production work to director work to post-game editing and on-air broadcasting. It also gives our alumni another way to connect to our student-athletes.”