Carlstrom, Web Manager in the Office of University Communications, helps
departments learn to update their own Web site information.
Perfect Web Sight: Web Manager Designs Wesleyan's Online Communications
with Consistent Message, Look, Feel
|Jen Carlstrom grew
up sketching Disney cartoon characters, molding clay figurines and designing
Christmas cards on her father’s computers. As she matured, so did
Carlstrom’s love for art and technology, which has ultimately led to a
career as Wesleyan’s Web manager.
"I’ve always loved drawing and using the computer to create arts projects,”
she recalls. “Designing on the Web combines those two passions I've had
since I was a child.”
Carlstrom, who came to the Office of University Communications in 2001, is
celebrating her fifth year building and designing Web pages this year at
Wesleyan. She came to the university with a bachelor’s of fine art in
graphic design from the University of Connecticut and an extensive list of
high profile clients, including Pfizer, Philip Morris, Allied Domecq and
IBM. Her work included leading multimedia projects, designing Web sites,
working on interface design and helping come up with companies’ visual
As Wesleyan’s Web Manager, Carlstrom oversees communications through the Web
by making sure Wesleyan’s pages have a consistent message, look and feel.
She stresses branding, or the visual way Wesleyan is marketed to the public.
“We want to create a consistent, recognizable identity in all our Web
communications,” Carlstrom says. “This includes our logo, colors, fonts and
imagery. We also help to leverage technology to communicate to our
Carlstrom says accomplishing this can, at times, be challenging.
Departments, which Carlstrom refers to her as clients, want to have their
own identity and a site that stands out from the others. Carlstrom tries to
give departments this freedom but within the cohesiveness of the
university’s standards and identity.
"When we get a client who wants green text on a blue background, we explain
that we want to help market their department, but consistency with the other
Wesleyan pages can be a good thing," she says. "We hope to create all
department Web sites with a cohesive and unified look and feel while keeping
the department’s identity with certain features in our templates."
Carlstrom points to the sites created for the English Department,
and the Art and Art History Department,
recent examples. Carlstrom was able to work with the departments to retain
their unique own look and feel and yet remain quickly identifiable as
"Wesleyan" sites - a task that’s not as easy as it sounds or looks.
"Jen brought a real clarity to the process, and she did it with a lot of
good humor and patience," says Marlisa Simonson, associate director for
employer relations at Wesleyan’s Community Resource Center (CRC). "She
helped us figure out our needs and then worked with us throughout the
process to make sure that we were thinking in terms of both design and
Simonson said functionality was a key because CRC’s site
http://www.wesleyan.edu/crc experiences heavy traffic.
“It was much more than just upgrading a look that met our needs and got it
in line with university standards,” she says. “We really wanted to improve
the way the site provided service. Jen was great in helping us reach all
A big part of Carlstrom’s job continues to be working with clients to update
their sites with the newly-created Wesleyan style and providing better
Web-based services to their audiences.
"Jen has taken on a set of formidable challenges: to make Wesleyan's Web
site a vehicle for effective communication with all the University's
constituencies, to integrate our online and print collateral, and to develop
new media as part of our portfolio,” says Justin Harmon, the director of
communications. “Wesleyan has strong platforms and needs leadership to
realize the potential of these media. I am grateful that we are led by a
professional who so deeply understands both the available technologies and
Carlstrom’s Web team includes Web designer Ryan Lee and senior designer
Anne Marcotty. The staff frequently consults with Pat Leone, World Wide Web
administrator for technical issues in Information Technology Services (ITS).
During the last few years, Leone worked with Carlstrom to implement a
template system that gives university pages a consistent look and feel, and
enables offices and departments to maintain current content.
Along with creating Web pages, Carlstrom and her colleagues have created
Wesleyan screen savers; the new virtual tour; e-mails using HTML, the
software language used on the Internet's World Wide Web; and multimedia
products for University Relations using Macromedia Flash. Carlstrom also
co-developed a DVD slideshow for the alumni donor reception and another DVD
of the university’s master plan for prospective donors.
“We strive to better communicate our message using these technologies,” she
The entire process of building a department’s Web site takes roughly six
weeks, depending on the client’s schedule. Carlstrom holds an initial
meeting with the client and discusses ideas and educates the client on the
best use of the Web for their purposes. The Web team then designs a site
based on the client’s needs.
After a client approves the design, Carlstrom oversees the building of
templates and training of the client on how to upload content onto their
pages. These training sessions are usually about three hours long and
provide clients with the know-how to manage their own sites.
Carlstrom also suggests clients new to Web design take additional software
training in Adobe GoLive if they use a Mac, or Microsoft Office FrontPage
if they are PC users.
Because she is doing this for the entire university, as well as the other
projects mentioned, Carlstrom has to be a master of multi-tasking. In
between playing watchdog to multiple Web projects, she spends her
days “usually in a lot of meetings” with clients or her Web staff. She’s
constantly communicating with the clients on the phone or through e-mail, in
addition to working on her projects.
“We’re always here if the client has any questions,” she says.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection