Redesigned Website to Make Debut This Week
March 13, 2000
On the morning of March 15, you'll find something different on the University's website.
A redesigned UConnWeb will be launched that day, with a look that features new and changing graphic images, easier ways to use the site, and improved organization of links to other UConn sites.
UConnWeb includes the University home page at http://www.uconn.edu and about 25 inner pages with menus and content that link to the web sites of the University's constituent departments and units, including the Health Center, the law school and the regional campuses.
The launch of the new UConnWeb is the culmination of a process that began nearly a year ago and included months of research and analysis, as well as design and web page testing.
The research included an online survey last fall that resulted in 665 responses during a one-month period. Fifty percent of the respondents were current UConn students. "Respondents told us what they like and don't like about our site, and we have incorporated many of their comments and suggestions in this redesign," says Mark J. Roy, manager of the UConnWeb.
The redesigned homepage features a collage of images that changes when users return to the page. Three different collages have been created - and they will be replaced from time to time with new versions.
"In the online survey, and in focus groups conducted last spring and comments from visitors to the website, people have asked us to revise the look, and especially to regularly update the images we use," says Roy.
The new homepage also carries the theme "An Unprecedented Transformatio n." The theme highlights the changes the University is experiencing through activities such as the UConn 2000 building program, a new emphasis on the first-year experience and undergraduate education, and greater efforts to highlight UConn research and service, as well as growing pride in the University's athletic successes.
Like the collage images, the theme will change, over time.
Also new to the home page is a clickable "message" graphic that will be used to convey important messages and announcements to the University community and the public at large. Found in the upper right hand corner of the new collage, the changing graphic will take users to a web page with additional information and, if applicable, links to other websites.
The new homepage is more functional as well. Users will find that placing a cursor over the page categories will make a graphic pop up that gives users a summary of what is to be found on that page. Putting the cursor over the category "Academics & Research," for example, brings up a summary that reads, "Academic majors & programs, schools & colleges, departments, graduate research and education, computing & libraries."
The categories listed on the home page have been revised slightly, based on survey results.
"We found that the item for faculty and staff, which was meant to offer those groups links to the information they would want to get to quickly, was confusing," Roy says. "Some expected to find a listing of faculty and staff. People also said it was hard to find information about administrative offices - so we changed the category from 'Faculty and Staff' to 'Administrative and Support Services,' which more accurately portrays what you will find on that menu."
A much-used category, "Contacting People," which takes users to the directory of telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of faculty, staff and students, has now been built into a new toolbar at the top of the homepage. Renamed "Directories," this toolbar link takes users to a revised page with more explanatory information about how to locate information about faculty, staff and students.
Also in the toolbar are links to the site index, information about the UConn website, and how to contact the University.
On the webpages that will soon be replaced, the old toolbar includes a link labeled "Comments." Also on the page are links to units of the University about which users most frequently ask questions, such as undergraduate and graduate admissions, athletics, and the library.
The new toolbar item labeled "Contact UConn" replaces the "Comments" item, and takes users to a revamped page that helps them send a question or request to admissions and other frequently contacted offices.
Additional explanatory information has been added to other pages as well. For example, tips on using the site search engine have been added to the Search page, and similar hints have been added to the Directories page.
The redesign process included an extensive review of the websites of other colleges and universities by a seven-member committee in University Communications, noting best practices as well as what to stay away from in web page design.
The new UConnWeb design was created by graphic artist John Bailey of University Communications.
The site was reviewed in draft by an advisory committee of faculty, staff and students, and shared with UConn's many web masters/web managers.
A number of suggestions and changes were incorporated into the final design.
Although they are not all related to the redesign of the homepage, there will be some additional changes coming to the UConnWeb during the next few weeks. A virtual tour of the University will be in place very soon, and several of the constituent sites are being redesigned - including the Alumni Association site. Also, a Parent's Association website will be coming online in the near future.