Preliminary Design Concept
The general consensus is that EWU’s current website is bloated, difficult to navigate and out-of-date. The solution? Keep it simple. We need to streamline our website by creating an information and design structure that is functional for multiple demographics: prospective students, current students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community. As we prepare for a redesign, we are continuing to compile a research document with features and elements from other websites that could potentially solve some of the major issues and obstacles we face. The next step is to try them out, and the logical place to begin is the homepage.
As you continue to read this post, please keep in mind our design seeks to meet the unique goals and objectives of our intended audience. As we collect more information about key demographics, personas, goals and objectives, the design will continue to evolve.
From the beginning, student-centered stories have been a major source of inspiration for our design concepts. We want to make sure the website highlights our university values, namely that “students are the reason we exist.” We want the new website to promote EWU’s key values of quality, access, inclusiveness and integrity through the voices of our students. To our surprise, most universities are doing little to highlight student stories. This is a great opportunity to be on the leading edge of the movement toward student-centered design.
On the homepage, we envision an interactive grid of student stories with a variety of media, including text, video and images. The grid design allows for unlimited expansion as we continue to collect student stories. As our database grows, new stories would populate on the page, keeping the content fresh and interesting. Every time you visit the page, there will be different stories to explore. As an iterative step, we’re considering the option of a sorting function for students to view stories that are relevant to their interests based on tags (degrees, activities, sports, etc.).
As mentioned above, one of our greatest design challenges as a university is the complexity of our many audiences. How do we appeal to prospective students without alienating our current students, faculty, staff, alumni and community? Other universities primarily solve this by creating custom menus that contain resources or pages that may fit the needs of that audience. While that’s a good solution, we’re considering how we can take customization even further. How can we make the homepage not just a marketing tool for prospective students, but also a functional landing area for every one of our important audiences?
One feature being considered is a customizable resources bar that can be modified to fit the needs of any individual. For example, a current student would probably need access to Canvas, EWU Libraries and Test Proctoring. A professor may want access to Canvas, EagleNET and Campus Events and a staff member might like a shortcut for Student Employment, Payroll or Travel. The possibilities are nearly endless!
By making the homepage more functional, we can unite our audiences in one place.
- Explore how this current style translates to mobile devices.
- Create a mock up for a programs page layout.
- Work with IT specialists to begin compiling a web style guide.