After spending roughly a hundred thousand dollars on their website over the last few years, the McMaster Students Union is dropping another hundred thousand on a brand new one.

Orbis Communications, who created and hosts the current website, informed the MSU that they would not be renewing their contract, as they would no longer be working with students unions in general. When the current deal expires on Aug. 31, Orbis will be taking their product with them, forcing the MSU to start from scratch.

“We have fairly unique needs,” said Jeff Wygaarden, the MSU’s Vice-President (Finance). “Other than student unions, I can’t think of anyone with the complexity and depth of the website we’ve got. We’ve got subpages upon subpages upon subpages of information.”

The site includes a jobs application portal, the ability to process online payments, individual clubs pages, MACID integration, connection to social media and an interactive calendar.

The new company, Factor[e] Design Initiative, will be trying to re-create the many modules provided by Orbis over the next few months. But unlike Orbis, Factor[e] will be handing over the intellectual property with the site so that if the relationship is severed, the MSU will not be left in a similar situation.

Ryan Moran, who served as the MSU’s president during 2007-2008, is currently working as the Marketing Communications Specialist for Factor[e]. He has been a point of contact between the two organizations.

“It was a point of concern for us originally … But having him on board is a huge bonus to us,” said Wyngaarden. “A lot of other companies came in and had no idea what we were talking about; they don’t know how student unions run, they didn’t understand our approval process.”

Although the costs seem steep, Wyngaarden was confident that the MSU had gone through the proper process finding a vendor and reasonable price.

“The consensus across the board has been that it’s worth the money that we’re paying,” he said, adding that costs are justifiable, “given what we’re getting out of it and given that it’s going to be much more sustainable long-term because we’re going to own it.”


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