Jan. 27 Meeting Discussion

Discussion of plan and activities involved in creating new look and feel for UNL website. Archived Jan. 17, 2007.

Jan. 27 Meeting Discussion

Postby rcrisler1 » Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:39 pm

Thank you all for your great contributions and patience this afternoon.

We have a lot to work with.

Available at the link below is a PDF file containing 32 designs.

Everyone please think about how best to proceed. In the hour since the meeting, I have conjured at least one way in which we might go on to creating several designs.

It appears to me that we could break into several groups to develop a few stylistic themes that are emerging. I see a set of crisp, square-cornered designs here, and I see a set of designs in which pleasant rounded corners are used liberally. There are a number of splash page designs which need to be translated to easily scalable and adoptable standard fixed page templates. What other things do you see that might become the design 'languages' that several working groups could be organized around?

Bear in mind that UNL has people at all skill levels developing pages. We need a set of templates that can be used by anyone. Let's be oriented in developing these pages toward a standard UNL web page. For select pages, we can develop these into design-heavy pages, but we need to really consider, and spend a good deal of time on, satisfying the more basic needs satisfied by a fixed-width template ...

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE


ps. I don't want to be a curmudgeon, but there was a topic in the conversation today that I need to follow up on.

It is not the role of this group to retreat from the move toward consistency on the UNL website. Consistency in user experience is our goal. Consider what the user would get in the bargain if we were to decide that six lines of code defining a UNL icon and a search box were the only common elements among UNL sites. Each site would require its own CSS (longer downloads), we'd diverge on the names of our classes and ids in our code (so any site transition would be scarcely better than in the Bad Old Days of tables if we did have second thoughts and wanted to recapture consistency), and the user would have to re-learn basic navigation for every subsite they visited.

This group was formed to allow everyone who wanted to participate a voice in the further development of the UNL website. If people choose another path, so be it. But there are real benefits to users that can be served best if we work together rather than drifting apart.
____


Robert J Crisler
Manager, Internet and Interactive Media
University Communications
321 Canfield Administration Building
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
402-472-9878
rcrisler1
Site Admin
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Wed May 12, 2004 12:20 pm
Location: Lincoln

Postby saltybeagle » Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:28 am

Sorry I had to leave early. At any rate, I propose we create a feature matrix to determine the trends of all of these designs and choose the top groupings of features with which to expand designs upon.

A 'feature' might be horizontal or vertical navigation, submenus, search box position etc. This might highlight some of the preferred design guidelines around which we continue.
Brett Bieber
Image
saltybeagle
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2004 3:10 pm
Location: 321 Admin

Postby Guest » Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:56 am

Thanks for getting this put together so quickly, Bob.

There are a number of splash page designs which need to be translated to easily scalable and adoptable standard fixed page templates.


In my opinion, a particular "standard" page design should drive its corresponding splash page design, rather than vice versa. It's simply an easier order of operations.

I see a set of crisp, square-cornered designs here, and I see a set of designs in which pleasant rounded corners are used liberally.


Two points. First, for what it's worth I've got a paper around here somewhere that says that women prefer softer, flowing websites over hard, angular websites. Men don't really care, so long as the line to "girly" isn't crossed. (I'm summarizing heavily!) Do with that what you will.

Second, rounded corners can be great, but if we go that route, let's remember to keep the solution degradeable, and let's eschew any and all extra mark-up. I'm not saying that just to sound like a hip Web 2.0 kind of guy; rather, the simpler and cleaner the solution, the more likely the campus's web developers will be able to use and maintain the code.

ps. I don't want to be a curmudgeon, but there was a topic in the conversation today that I need to follow up on. ...


Agreed.

----

I wonder if there isn't something else we should do before we divide into groups to develop a couple different prototypes. Namely, to determine which page elements are musts, maybes, and definitely nots. I'm thinking about a rating system along these lines:

A. Required.
B. Include if at all possible, but not required.
C. Optional (a catch-all classification)
D. Deprecated.

Examples of items in each classification:

A --> Academic N; scarlet; search...
B --> Official fonts; random ad...
C --> Any good ideas folks may have...
D --> The annoying menu script we use today...

It seems like it would be difficult to break into mini-committees without having at least some of those classifications set in stone. I think we think we know how we would classify many items, but me, I'd rather know we know.
Guest
 

Postby Joel Brehm » Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:28 pm

I never really got to present my design on Friday, but I think it addresses a few things as far as consistency and so on.

When making my design, I had all of these things in mind, make it easy to convert things over, but still look nice and consistent. I tried to come up with a layout that keeps a large space open that can be filled with the existing text, pictures etc., but still look like it is part of the new design and the overall unl website. Really I think this type of layout will provide us with some consistent navigation, design elements, and still look like each page was created specifically to go with the new template--even if it was just a copy and paste of text from the existing page. Ignoring the "design" of my pages, and just looking at the layout of where the top buttons go, the middle picture, and the secondary office buttons go, I think it accomplishes everything we have been discussing very well--but that's just my opinion, and of course I'm biased :)

http://www.unl.edu/research/unl1.jpg
http://www.unl.edu/research/unl2.jpg
http://www.unl.edu/research/research1.jpg
http://www.unl.edu/research/research2.jpg


Joel
Joel Brehm
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:10 pm
Location: Office of Research: 104 Alex

"Denial"

Postby rcrisler1 » Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:36 pm

The role of this group is not to decide whether or not a unified look and feel is the right approach for the university.

That decision has been made. The role of this group is to come up with a new set of templates.

We don't have a lot of time to accomplish this.

A single design was submitted, consisting of three elements in a band across the top: an 'N' icon, the words 'University of Nebraska-Lincoln,' and a search box. This design was presented over several permutations, including the Architecture one. The Architecture example provides a bit of real-world clarity to the discussion that should not be denied to the larger group.

Going this route would, it seems to me, allow any and all designs unless we were to set up an aesthetics committee to review them. In the middle, in that boundary between "allowed" and "not allowed" there would be some very ambiguous terrain. It's not a job I'm eager to do ... displaying that design only over similar pages would imply that it would be a simple thing to keep consistency under those circumstances.
____


Robert J Crisler
Manager, Internet and Interactive Media
University Communications
321 Canfield Administration Building
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
402-472-9878
rcrisler1
Site Admin
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Wed May 12, 2004 12:20 pm
Location: Lincoln

Postby Guest » Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:46 pm

I have a concern...

Hi all,

coming from a print background, I would not have too much to add in terms of implementation, control and something that would transfer well through code or CSS across the board between each department within UNL...

However, I must say that I was expecting to see less details on the design of the new prototypes and see more things that would be visually appealing like menu bar graphics, backgrounds, main photographs, colors and etc...

It seems most people kept the colors the same, the placement of menus and things were not too different as well.

I was hoping that for a redesign, we would come up with things that are visually attractive before we got to the details of how a particular menu system or navigation style could be implemented.

It has been my experience that if we come up with strong visual solutions, we can adapt those solutions to match a specific menu system or navigation style.

I'm a little concerned that our decisions for the look and feel of the site will be diminished because most of us spent a lot of time thinking of the minimal details involved rather than creating a visual interest to be reviewed.

I'm not sure how to make that better, but if you guys have suggestions, please let me know...

Thanks,

Marcelo
EE&O
Guest
 

Postby Seth » Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:06 pm

As I read Bob's original post, I came up with my reply. The further I read along, I noticed that my exact stance was explained in much better words by 'Guest.' (aka Mr. Wilson).

I used to be under the belief that it was appropriate for each department to come up with their design which they felt best fit their targe audience. Though there is some value in this, it is lost when standard elements (colors, navigation, logo placement, aesthetics) are changed. After listening to prospective students discuss their frustration of being lost on WAM, Architecture, Blackboard, and many other sites, I have switched my stance. If a student has to ask if Architecture or WAM is even a part of UNL, then we have lost our web presence purpose.

It is important to begin the discussion of what is required, and not required (as suggested by Brent). So I will start by expanding the criteria:
    Academic N and placement
    Wordmark and placement
    Scarlet color
    Navigation placement (including a standard UNL navigation that never changes)
    Fonts
    Department Title and placement
    Search box

We can then decide on a few designs, and finally discuss implementation.

At the end of the day, only two audiences' opinions matter -- the students using the pages and Chancellor Perlman. Without the students paying the bills and the Chancellor signing the checks, we don't have a web presence.
Seth
 

2 cents

Postby dsockrider » Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:15 am

Considering the discussion we are having I believe this message board should be restricted to members only and posts may only be made by members who are logged in.

First of all, I'd like to compliment the team that has worked many years on a website that is extremely large, complicated and political. You've done a great job and I look forward to contributing to the future UNL web site.

I didn't get the opportunity to discuss my splash page design this last Friday, so I thought I'd try to catch up to the rest of the group by contributing my two cents about what I believe should be considered in a new UNL template.

(my splash page)
http://www.nuengr.unl.edu/NextGenerationWebDev/

My 'splash page' design is developed around a philosophy from a marketing/advertising perspective. My experience comes from 10 years as an Interactive Art Director, Multimedia Graphics Designer, Graphic Designer and freelance web designer.

When I started thinking about this website I began by establishing 6 main priorities to design by.

Emphasize everything and you emphasize nothing.' - Gill (the font designer)

Priority #1. Recruit undergraduate students.
Priority #2. Get graduate students.
Priority #3. Get research funding.
Priority #4. Provide content/utility to current students.
Priority #5. Provide content for alumni.
Priority #6. Provide utility to current employees and faculty.


Priority #1-Get new undergraduate students
A: Establish 2 way communication with potential students and their parents.
1. have a CSS drop down form that will gather personal information of potential students and other people who are interested in UNL. Printed info or email info are potential forms of promotional media that could be used.
http://www.nuengr.unl.edu/NextGenerationWebDev/ (click on '> Request more information about UNL.')

2. An email newsletter sign up form could be a way to keep potential UNL students, grad students and parents reminded of what the benefits of UNL are over our competitors.
3. Live chat
a. bigger phone #

B. Step by Step Guide for the potential student and parent on what they need to do to become a student.

C: provide content/features that appeal to high school students with broadband internet connections.
1. Sell the University on it's benefits over other schools-Huskers, Bachelors degree
a. More video/multimedia content designed to create appeal for the University-Video in large picture box area. Enhanced virtual tour.
b. Blog directories or social networking directories designed to mimick the success of sites like myspace and facebook.
c. More images/video of happy, interesting diverse students. Story of a student's average day.
1. More Images of Students Learning
2. Stories/testimonials of successful graduates and what they have moved onto in professional careers. How much money they can make as a graduate.
3. Students having fun.

Priority #2- Get graduate students
A: Establish 2 way communication with potential grad students. (part of form on main page)
B: provide content/features that appeal to prospective graduate school students
1. programs offered
2. research
3. faculty

Priority #3- get research funding
a. show accomplishments
b. grad studies/faculty

Priority #4- provide content/utility to current students
a. blog directory
b. social networking
c. student news

Priority #5- Provide content for alumni

Priority #6- Provide utility to current employees and faculty
a. portal-a good page for a homepage, helpful links you might use everyday.
http://www.nuengr.unl.edu/NextGenerationWebDev/portal.jpg
b. private intranet for employees

I realize some of these points are already in practice by different departments of the University website but many other departments could benefit from some features. There are still blank spaces to be filled in terms of addressing these priorities and I'm very interested in hearing from the rest of the group about how design and content may achieve all of these points.

Navigation:
I believe in large text in a left hand vertical menu is the best for priority navigation. Easy to read is easy to navigate. A consistent top navigation bar can be very practical for site wide helpful links. I like a bread crumb trail right below a title. I think a button on a search should say 'search' not 'go'. I believe the navigation should flow the same as natural reading...from upper left to lower right. I believe the higher priority objectives should take up a majority of screen real estate and be at the top or left side of the main menu.

Color: I like the reds that aren't too bright onscreen and creams that aren't too yellow or too light. Patterns in the color can help break up large areas. With fixed width templates, backgrounds will be exposed. I like background patterns that are done subtle and tile effectively.

Content of the site:
I believe the site should be leading edge in every respect. I would like to see more video content, including podcasts, immersive virtual tours with integrated live feeds, google maps and blog integration.

I think it would be beneficial to be able to reuse existing photography for the main image and spotlight sidebar images. I know many people like the right sidebar images and they should just be developed further. As far as rounded corners vs. square corners, with CSS, square corners are a lot more practical.

...well this could be a start, I know there's a lot of work to be done.
dsockrider
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:37 am
Location: Engineering

areas of effort

Postby phe » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:59 am

After reading through the comments so far, and especially considering Bob's concerns, my feeling is that we need to have 2 standard sets of navigation... a global set of "institutional navigation" that appears everywhere (and does not change), and then when appropriate, a sub-set of departmental navigation that works well with the primary (functionally and aesthetically) and is customizable to the needs of the department.

This is where I was kind of hoping to go with #6 & 7 but didn't get to the sub-navigation or any of the departmental-specific content (or breadcrumbs, or much at all). I certainly agree that there needs to be set forms, functions, and guidelines for any departmental navigation... and personally I feel like departmental-specific structures should be independent of the global navigation... to keep consistency and allow for a bit more flexibility on the part of the departments.

-p
phe
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:07 am
Location: 501 Building

Apples and oranges

Postby Erin Paseka » Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:39 pm

Lots of good ideas here already, but the cacophony has begun. Part of the challenge is that we’re talking about two different page types/purposes at once:
- Front/splash: more often seen, few total pages
- Content: less often seen, far more total pages

Front/splash pages are critical because they’re a first impression and get the most hits, but as I see it, content pages are the muscle and bone of the site. We have to establish some structure before we put all our energy into creating a pretty face. If it were up to me, we’d concentrate on basic page design first and worry about front pages later.

Since common elements (or at least their positioning) will likely differ from one page type to the other, let’s try to be clear about which type(s) of pages we're talking about when we post specific ideas and opinions.
Erin Paseka
 
Posts: 147
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 3:02 pm
Location: Graduate Studies

Postby Seth » Tue Jan 31, 2006 3:18 pm

An interesting article which is relevant to this discussion was posted on A List Apart yesterday. The article discusses Home Page design by dissecting 4 goals. I will paraphrase:

Goal 1: Answer the question: what is this place?
Create an immediate identity.

Goal 2: Don’t get in the repeat visitor’s way
Make everything easy to find.

Goal 3: Show what’s new
Give repeat visitors a reason to come.

Goal 4: Provide consistent, reliable global navigation
Set the stage, and don't ever change it.

-------
In the interest of time, let's begin to make some decisions.

1. Where do we start?
Let's decide the color of red/scarlet we will use.
Then, let's decide what fonts will be used.
Finally, let's decide what aspects are required and where they should be positioned.
Splash page, or no splash page?
Drop-down navigation, or static navigation?
Home page design first, or secondary page design first?

2. Flush out the above requirements
Explain where, when, why and how the required aspects are to be used.

3. Examine the submitted prototypes and determine which parts resemble the required aspects.
Remember, not all required aspects will come from the same design. Finalized designs will represent parts of many designs.

4. Put together a team of top designers to develop the final design submissions.
Let's not have too many cooks in the kitchen

5. Use future web dev group time to discuss bells and whistles (i.e. drop down forms, sliding navigation, sIFR, etc...)
This could be done at any time after requirements are established

Before I run through my answers to the above questions, I will open it up to suggestions. What are your thoughts on this outline? Do you feel anything should be added? Subtracted? We can then discuss the answers to the outline in a few days.

-Seth
Seth
 

Great Discussion. Next Meeting?

Postby rcrisler1 » Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:36 pm

There are a lot of great ideas here, and this post is not intended to cut off the discussion. It's pretty apparent that a lot of this is stuff that we need to discuss face-to-face. We've got a lot of different viewpoints, and we should see that as a positive thing; this process will take a lot of work, and it is important and valuable that we've got people interested more in one thing than another.

We need to keep each part of the process fairly simple, and the overriding goal is to get a new general design in production by summer ... I think we need to identify our building blocks, then several design iterations from those building blocks, then some targeted content pieces for use on splash pages and reference designs for page content on the general pages. That may not be the best order if we were starting from scratch. But there are a whole lot of pages that are going to need to be tested in their new 'clothes' before we go live. There are many fewer splash pages, and they can be continually upgraded after a transition to a new design. There are a lot of great ideas here touching on that important real estate - we will get there, and we'll do as much as possible before the transition.

It is becoming clear, too, that this might be a weekly meeting, if that's OK with all of you. I assume this Friday is out, unless you all write back and say let's meet on the 3rd. But the 10th at 2 o'clock?
____


Robert J Crisler
Manager, Internet and Interactive Media
University Communications
321 Canfield Administration Building
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
402-472-9878
rcrisler1
Site Admin
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Wed May 12, 2004 12:20 pm
Location: Lincoln

Re: Great Discussion. Next Meeting?

Postby phe » Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:44 pm

Bob Crisler wrote:We need to keep each part of the process fairly simple, and the overriding goal is to get a new general design in production by summer ... I think we need to identify our building blocks, then several It is becoming clear, too, that this might be a weekly meeting, if that's OK with all of you. I assume this Friday is out, unless you all write back and say let's meet on the 3rd. But the 10th at 2 o'clock?


The 3rd is cool with me. I've got 3:00 as the recurring time for these meetings, do you want to move up to 2:00?
phe
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:07 am
Location: 501 Building

Next

Return to ARCHIVED: Next-Generation Redevelopment Group

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron