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)
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.
-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.
(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.
- 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
- get research funding
a. show accomplishments
b. grad studies/faculty
- provide content/utility to current students
a. blog directory
b. social networking
c. student news
- Provide content for alumni
- Provide utility to current employees and faculty
a. portal-a good page for a homepage, helpful links you might use everyday.
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.
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.