It's been a busy summer, and things are progressing nicely with the Web Refresh.
The two Social Media workshops were well-attended. On-demand video recordings of the sessions are available to members of the campus community; please email Melissa Bergem (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request access.
We continue to work with Stamats on a weekly basis to iron out issues that arise as we refine our information architecture. Members of the core team have conferred with peers at UC San Diego and Cal Poly Pomona about their recent experiences with deploying responsive web site designs.
Over the summer, three style tiles were developed to visually capture the identity and mood of CI. These examples were reviewed by the core team and presented to the President for feedback. Ultimately one was selected to best represent CI as a connected, 21st-century campus of innovation, and the selected mood will be used to guide visual design decisions moving forward.
As the visual design continues to take shape, members of the core team have continued to meet with subject matter experts from key campus areas to gather feedback and demonstrate progress on our functional prototype, including new functionality that will be available for helping students match their interests to the programs offered at CI. Templates and a web style guide are now under development and testing by members of the design team.
The team expects to go-live with a public beta web site in October to obtain further feedback from the campus community and enable further refinement before go-live.
Finally, in support of creating a more mobile-friendly campus (and in parallel with the Web Refresh project) the Division of Technology & Communication is currently researching solutions to support creation and deployment of a campus native mobile app for iPhone and Android platforms. Visit the CI Mobile Strategy web site for further details.
- Thursday, June 13, 9:00am - 12:00pm
- Thursday, June 13, 1:00 - 4:00pm
I'm pleased to report that the CI Web Refresh team made good progress this spring. Here's a snapshot of what was completed since the last update:
1. Stamats helped us complete usability tests of our prototypes on both mobile and laptop platforms to verify how easily prospective students could complete certain tasks, such as finding information about what academic programs are available, or determining cost of attendance. The results of the tests have been used to further refine the organization and content of our new site.
2. We hosted two "Writing for the Web" workshops for creators of web content. (One of the writing workshop sessions was recorded, and is available for on-demand viewing by University employees; please contact Peter Mosinskis at email@example.com to obtain access.)
3. We worked with Stamats to re-write 50 pages of web content from a cross-section of key University web sites to define the our web site content style and tone in support of our new web site strategy. These pages are being shared with key stakeholders for feedback, and will be incorporated into new web sites. (Campus organizations can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to review this content.)
4. Our team has built 16 web pages in a grey-scale, HTML wire frame format. These examples encompass the CI home page and main navigation elements, and have been used to test and refine the user experience of our new site.
5. We've scheduled a "Social Media workshop" for Thursday, June 13. This workshop is meant to help social media authors across campus to learn to communicate more effectively. (Interested in attending? Contact Melissa Bergem at email@example.com by June 11 to RSVP). For those that can't attend, a video recording will be available after the workshop.
So what's left to be done? To get a better idea, our team completed an inventory of pages affected by the refresh effort, and here's some of what we learned:
- To launch only an updated University home page and top-level pages, our team must review, modify or build from scratch at least 34 web sites and web applications.
- To launch a new CI home page and 5 top-level pages, our team must do the same for at least 100 web sites and web applications.
- To complete the project, our team must migrate over 200 unique web sites and web applications comprising over 27,000 unique digital assets (including web pages, electronic documents, and digital images) into the new web site design.
This summer, the CI core team will continue to work on:
- the build out and testing of web site prototypes for the University home page and top-level pages
- graphic design of web themes and styles, including color, texture, typography, and layout
- re-writes of existing web site content in coordination with campus stakeholders
- further testing of prototypes on a number on traditional and mobile platforms by various audience groups
- optimization of web content and design delivery for mobile platforms
- updates to the CI Web Style Guide and web site templates
With the support of our strategic partners at Stamats/Catchfire Media and the active participation of many stakeholders across the University, this fall the CI Web Refresh Core Team has made excellent progress.
Since September, the Core Team has led 11 group meetings with subject matter experts across the University, including faculty, staff and administrators in Academic Affairs, Admissions & Recruitment, Extended University, Student Affairs, Advancement, and the Office of the President. During these meetings, the team has reviewed proposed information architecture and navigation changes, and presented updated content models for review and feedback. In addition, members of the Core Team have presented project updates to the Web Refresh Advisory team and the campus IT Planning and Policy Committee. Members of the Core Team will continue to meet with campus organizations to help ensure unified implementation of our new web strategy throughout the next year.
The new information architecture (IA) has been developed based on this feedback, as well as the outcomes of strategic planning and research completed in cooperation with Stamats earlier this year. This IA facilitates access to information for all of our target audiences, while focusing on improving access to critical information of prospective students.
To accompany the updated IA, the CI team has been working to complete a content inventory for each of the nearly 200 key University web pages. Page goals, descriptions of content and interactivity, and calls to action are being defined for each page represented in the IA. In addition, Stamats has developed 30 pages of new content in conjunction with our team and subject matter experts across the University to engage our web site visitors and to help tell the story of CI. The CI team continues to meet with subject matter experts in each content area to provide opportunities for review and feedback of new and revised content, to ensure that campus organizations and services are represented accurately and appropriately.
Our talented CI web design team has been busy researching and testing technologies to improve the mobile user experience, and has begun developing initial prototypes of the new site structure and visual organization. During the fall semester, the CI team coordinated two usability tests with prospective students, and used the feedback to verify decisions about organization of our navigation. In spring 2013, we will partner with Stamats to complete further usability testing of our prototypes to ensure that the navigation and organization of our web site makes sense and is easy-to-use across a range of devices, including smartphones and tablets.
The Core Team continues to work closely with our partners at Stamats/Catchfire, meeting as a team on a weekly basis and individually throughout the week as needed to solve problems and answer questions. If you have any questions about this project, feel free to leave your comments here, or contact me at Peter Mosinskis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 805-437-8587.
Finally, a huge thanks to all those who have contributed their time, thought and energy towards this project during 2012. This project wouldn't be possible without the vision and dedication of our team members and the ongoing support of our campus community and leadership.
On behalf of the Core Team, we wish you all the happiest and most relaxing of holidays, and we look forward to working with you to launch the updated CI web site in 2013.
As I mentioned in the previous post, building a web site is a lot like building a home.
The process first starts with identifying requirements. Requirements define what the end result will have (or won't have), and determine how much time and resources you can spend.
From there, a blueprint which incorporates the requirements is developed; it shows how the requirements come together, relate to one another, and provide a first look at how users will navigate the end result.
The CI Web Refresh Core Team and Stamats have wrapped up the requirements for the new CI site (as outlined in the executive summary shared in a previous post), and are now working on a new "blueprint". This process is formally known as information architecture (IA), and includes the following activities:
- defining what kinds of spaces are necessary on the updated site, based on the requirements outlined in our strategy;
- determining the naming/labeling of the spaces;
- organizing the spaces and showing how they relate to one another;
- visualizing how people will move through the spaces; and
- confirming that the spaces and their labels make sense to their users.
This week, key stakeholders from Admissions & Recruitment, Alumni, Academic Affairs, University faculty, Extended University, and Student Affairs are meeting individually via conference call with our strategic partner Stamats as well as members of the Web Refresh Core team to review findings and recommendations for their respective areas.
During these meetings, we are reviewing institutional goals, project objectives, core assumptions and guiding principles for the project. In addition, we are outlining key priorities, time frames and next steps related to each group.
One important theme re-iterated throughout these meetings is that while we strive to improve communication to all visitors to the CI web site, the focus for this project is to improve communication to prospective students first and foremost. This is necessary to ensure that the limited resources available for this project are focused on addressing our institutional goals, as listed in the strategic brief executive summary, available in PDF format.
Speaking of focus, redesigning a web site is a lot like building a house: most of the time, you can't design or build a house on an unlimited budget with unlimited resources. You've got to work within your means and you've got to have a good plan. Fortunately, all of the research and strategy work we've done so far have given us a good plan. In our next installment, we'll share how our team is starting to build the blueprint for the new CI web site.