On May 12, the final result of the design team was presented to the Web Developers Network. The design, a visual realignment, will become the new template and interface for UNL.edu beginning August 17. For details on how the design came to be, take a look at Aaron’s explanation of the process, and my explanation of the research.
Let’s See the New Template!
The visual design of the 2009 UNL.edu template in the default state.
From the Top
In the top left corner is the “N,” roughly the same size as in our current design. However, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln title is much larger and more prominent.
In the upper right corner is a much larger search box. We have also removed the option to select the type of search to handle, and will replace with a results page that incorporates search results from unl.edu, peoplefinder and the local site. The idea is to create one simple interface element to use when searching the site.
Immediately below the search box is a row of icons. The muted-in-color icons serve as links to site-wide resources (in order): RSS Links, current weather, the event calendar, peoplefinder and the public webcams. When the mouse rolls over these icons, they will be presented in color with little help “balloons” describing each element. Clicking on these will bring available the selected resource.
Perhaps the largest advancement from our current site is the display of the navigation. The new design brings together the multiple navigation schemes present on any page and places them in a single, efficient and compartmentalized section. More on the functionality of the navigation below.
Below the navigation, is a full-width, four-column content section. This area is reserved for the most important elements of the page, and is available to the developers to present in the fashion their users most need. Content area resources will be available for developers.
The last section of the page is an extended footer. This is reserved for site-wide content that can be found on every page (related links, promotional items, contact information, etc…)
This morning, the WDN design survey invitation delivery process began. This process involves sending a short email message to our target audiences (prospective students, faculty/staff, current students, alums, parents, extension, etc…) with a link to our online tool to gather responses. When all is said and done, around 90,000 audience members will have received an invitation to participate.
The survey consists of two major sections:
The first section is used to test the look and feel of three possible design candidates for the Fall 2009 redesign. It asks users to submit a rating based on a 2 second analysis. Then an opportunity to spend more time with each design and provide comments and qualitative data is available.
The second section is designed to gather a more generic internet usage blueprint. Questions are arranged based on experiences on unl.edu and experiences online in general. This is a survey we would like to administer on a regular basis and use the results to determine shifts in audience preferences over time.
Over the coming months, we will be sharing the analysis of both sections of the survey. This blog, upcoming WDN and WAG meetings will be used as avenues for dispersing these results.
This afternoon, I will be giving a introductory presentation/training opportunity on using Google Analytics. As you might recall, a few weeks ago I asked various groups to respond to a survey outlining their use of Google Analytics (if any) and to indicate areas where they would like more information. I have reviewed these responses and I am using them to put together today’s presentation.
Though the presentation will focus on a some of the major features, hundreds of intermediate to advanced uses exist. If I don’t cover an area today, raise your hand and ask about it. Or leave a comment on this blog with a question. Or shoot me an email.
We are now at the stage of harvesting initial design candidates for consideration as the beginning of the visual refreshining. Two months ago, designers and developers were invited to mock up new a visual representation of the UNL template. Since that time, many designers have accepted the invitation and began crafting the initial stages of their proposed designs. Some of these designers have shared their first designs by posting online for critiques.
Tomorrow, during a 2:00 meeting in the Nebraska Union (in which everyone is welcome to attend), the Web Developer Network will review these design candidates. The purpose of this meeting is to not decide a final design, but rather review the multiple possible directions each designer has taken his/her design. Then like-minded users will be grouped together to extend and integrate their designs to produce one final rough draft candidate. In an ideal situation, only a few breakout groups will be created.
While the final design is still months away from completion, many elements and directions are starting to form. Large questions — such as horizontal v. vertical navigation, prominence of search box(es), functionality of calendar feeds, file organization — are being discussed. If you have any input on these considerations or others, please plan to attend these meetings or leave a comment on this below.