The new design
Please note that the design mockups are images and not functioning Web pages. Text, audio and video files explaining how the initial design reflected the data gathered appear below. A project overview also is available, as is the new policy for content on the home page approved by the Chancellor and Provost.
View the latest design
New design modified in response to user feedback
- Home page design (note plus signs in "Resources for" section links to indicate most-popular content available as drop down menu. Details.
- Second-level page (note bold "About Us" link in top horizontal navigation with tick mark below).
- Third-level page (note "Arts & Culture" link highlighted in right navigation).
- Fourth-level page (note "Museums and Collections" bolded in left-hand subnavigation).
Compare the modified design with the initial home page design using the links below.
User feedback summary
The initial design and call for feedback appeared on the current home Web page in the Front and Center feature, Inside Illinois, On Our Watch, a mass email sent to all students, an email sent to parents, briefs sent to the Daily Illini, and in independent news coverage in the News-Gazette, the Daily Illini, and the Quad Blog.
Feedback was solicited when the initial design was presented in-person to chief communication officers, Webmasters, the Illinois Student Senate, faculty and staff, DRES staff, the Student Portal development group at CITES. All other audiences were solicited for feedback via this Web page.
The data analysis page was viewed 32,000 times, this design page was viewed 23,227 times and the mockup image of the initial home page design was viewed 20,226 times.
Institutional Review Board policies only permit the discussion of the survey results in very general terms. A total of 839 responses were received. The strongest responses indicated that the new design successfully reduced the number of links on the home page, matched current user technology, and matched user behaviors.
- The majority of comments were very positive toward the overall design.
- Students strongly desired a return of the Quick Links function on the current home page.
- Comments about the colors used in the design were split, with half strongly in favor and the other half suggesting changes. Of those who suggested changes, half suggested deeper colors, and the other half indicated they preferred the traditional orange and blue palette.
Design response to user feedback
- Color deepened.
- The Quick Links function was returned in a different format. In the "Resources For" section, a plus sign was added to the links to indicate that on hover, the most popular user destinations as determined by user behavior data would appear as a drop-down menu. For students, for instance, this would mean registration, class schedules, Course Catalog, Illinois Compass, Banner UI Integrate Self-Service would appear when the user hovered on the Current Students link.
New Home Page Content Policy
The Chancellor and Provost also approved a new policy for content on the home page. Read the policy (PDF).
View the initial design
We invite you to watch a video explanation of the initial home page design (Flash player needed).
Also available are MP3 audio files from the video.
The most common questions we've been asked are on this page; we'll add more as feedback from users continue.
Text explanation of the initial design
Reflects the branded approach.
- Carefully selected images from the campus image database.
- Shot by a professional photographer.
- Sets a clearly positive tone for the site, compared with our existing site’s tone, which is set by unreliable front + center images.
- Will softly fade in and out via Flash (no change on refresh).
- Four sets of images – one for each season. Data indicate that students prefer to see the campus community in all seasons, rather than only in sunny summer shots.
- Large images are available because more than 97% of visitors are viewing the site via a broadband connection.
- 1010 pixels wide, with content within 970 pixels
- Site width based on data that support more than 90% of users browsing with screen resolutions of 1024x768 or larger.
- The Search Bar
- E-mail is the number one hit on the site, thus it becomes the very first link on the site. Its placement is one of easy access and recognition.
- Search function locus.
- A-Z index of campus units, a top site hit.
- Find people and info – search the campus online directory for people and use a Google search to find Web pages.
- To the right, the date, which also links to the University calendar.
- The weather, a very popular feature, which will take advantage of campus’s own resources by linking to the Department of Atmospheric Sciences for more details.
- Slimmed down to eight items from 11 on the current site.
- The number is based on The Principle of Seven, meaning the average human can comprehend about seven items in a list at any given time. Keep in mind it says about seven, which is why our list can accommodate eight.
- We moved a few items, like Administration, Arts & Culture, and Community, into a new link called About Us. A survey of 26 of our peers’ Web sites showed that more than half include these types of subjects within a general “About Us” link, a practice our users will be familiar with.
As a whole, the current site has 92 links, not including the Quick Links. The new site has 51 links.
Designed with change in mind
The new design addresses flexibility to change in the future in two ways:
- Users can change the basic font size on their own browser. The design allows room for this so that the page layout doesn’t break when the font size is increased.
- New content will need to be added in the future. The design anticipates these future needs and provides flexibility for changing or adding content as needed. (However, strong efforts should be focused toward not letting the site become as inundated with information.
- Graphic Standards
- The new design prominently displays the Illinois Mark, as directed by the Graphic Standards Manual. The site will be an example for all of campus.
- Incorporation of an approved Brilliant Futures campaign logo is also necessary. It exists in the top-left corner of the lower section of the site. Placement and style contribute to how the logo is highlighted.
Controlled by RSS feed, the top announcement section is for the Chancellor’s special announcements, with the area below for campus-wide announcements. This space is flexible to allow for the ever-changing number of total announcements at any given time.
Colleges & Schools
A drop-down menu provides a complete list of colleges and schools without taking up as much page real estate as on the current site.
A Minute With™
According to our Google Analytics data, the A Minute With™ feature is extremely popular. The “time” icon will appear, and the image of the person interviewed will appear on an intermediary page.
A place for the site’s users to self-identify as they seek audience-specific information.
- The "Future students" link will lead to an intermediary page with the Office of Admission and Record's admissions page as the top link. Other links will include Graduate Admissions and Continuing Education information.
- The "Current students" link will lead to an intermediary page with my.ILLINOIS (the new student portal) as a top link. As the portal becomes more comprehensive, we envision the Current Students link taking users directly to my.ILLINOIS.
Campus Highlights (formerly Front & Center)
- Prominently placed, the Campus Highlights will carry the weight of displaying important campus events and highlights.
- Two highlights will be displayed, gathered randomly from a group of six.
- With this new layout, occasional poor image quality will not have a negative effect on the site, but will rather add a splash of color and interest to the whole design.
News & Events and Featured Resources
- Branded approach, as opposed to bubble-up approach.
- Links users directly to the News Bureau and campus calendars, rather than listing news and events.
- The Featured Resources area will be a niche for specialized seasonal content; for example, in the summer it would include a link to iStart.
Here & Now: Images of Illinois
- Web 2.0, community-based feature.
- Will allow students, faculty, staff, and possibly anyone to submit images or video about Illinois.
- Gives users an authentic view of campus from the average person’s perspective, rather than administration’s.
- Is also a place where researchers can publish animations of new findings, or other great discoveries in image or video form.
- All images will fade out until you mouse-over an image.
- Moused-over image will become fully visible (like round barn image)
- Mousing right or left will make the “film-strip” pan to the left or right, revealing up to 20 or 30 recent images.
- Clicking will take user to an intermediate aggregator page, showing thumbnails of all current photos and videos.
- Users can then view larger images or the whole video.
- All content will be archived
A basic footer – all University campuses will be linked, including the Global Campus. Site info, accessibility, contact info, employment, emergency information and a site map will also be available here.
- Red, bold, and absolutely unmistakable.
- Will ideally run on servers that can handled the increased traffic that comes with AJAX programming (approval pending), so that the message will pop-up without a refresh. Currently, the browser needs to be refreshed for the message to work.
- Suggestions include adding a sound or tone when the message appears.
The Search Bar
Units can customize colors of the Search Bar to match their site.
Answers Provost’s call for common navigation across campus.
- Available as a resource to all campus units. Its use is voluntary.
- Provides Illinois identification, as well as our top hit link and search functions:
- A-Z Index.
- Find people and Web pages, with radio buttons for a unit- or campus-wide search.
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