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Cybercol: Redesigning UConnWeb
October 18, 1999

Mark J. Roy

For the past several months, the UConnWeb has been under review, with an eye toward redesigning the University's homepage ( and the second-level menu pages that get users to UConn's online information.

Now it's time to hear from you.

This past week, an online public opinion survey was placed on the UConnWeb as a way of finding out what users think about the components of a good website.

What do you want to see in a revamped UConnWeb? What don't you like about the current design? How can we improve navigation through the site? What features do we need to examine to make the delivery of information more efficient?

A group at University Communications has been working on the re-design of the UConnWeb, including research and analysis of websites for more than 70 universities and colleges. Some are peer institutions, some are award-winners. Some are large research universities, some are small liberal arts colleges.

The goal has been to look at what works and what doesn't work on university websites - or any websites for that matter - and to determine how can we apply the best practices to the University of Connecticut's website.

As web users and the browsers they use become more sophisticated, our website needs to reflect new developments in web design and use.

The site design must appeal to an internal audience of students, faculty and staff. It must also appeal to potential students and their parents; alumni looking for news about their alma mater; and scholars who are looking for information about the work of colleagues here at UConn.

UConn, like most universities and colleges, has a decentralized website - each school and college, each department and program, has its own set of web pages. I like to think of the UConnWeb - about a dozen or so menu and content pages - as the binding that brings all of the other sites together.

Getting users effectively to these constituent websites is the challenge, and each redesign of UConnWeb since its beginnings in 1993 has been undertaken with that basic tenet.

The results of the public opinion survey will add significantly to the research already compiled, and give us a better idea of what people want on the University website.

Certainly there will be improvements to the graphics, and people have been telling us for some time that they would like to see more photos and graphics used.

In a separate project, a virtual tour of the University is being developed - and another unit on campus has been working for months on a series of beautiful 360-degree photographic views of many locations on the Storrs campus. Pull-down menus will replace long lists of links on the various menu pages.

We also are looking at whether categories need to be revised on the homepage - as well as adding explanatory information where necessary on the inner menu pages.

You will be able to get to the survey form from each of the UConnWeb menu pages (as well as the homepage), or you can go directly to: