By Sarah Kyo and Cyril Manning, University Advancement
A new and improved version of the San Jose State website launches Nov. 15. The redesign of SJSU.edu features a cleaner appearance, improved navigation, and a consistent set of templates designed for adoption by departments throughout campus.
“Because of San Jose State’s broad audience, we needed to include a large amount of information in a way that makes everything easy to find,” said Christina Olivas, web designer for SJSU’s Office of Public Affairs. “This was a huge challenge.”
The student-run design studio Design Creature, led by Associate Professor Connie Hwang, was up for that challenge. The student designers created the site’s look and feel based on extensive research and input from the campus community.
Here, Design Creature lead designers Kate Alcid, Nicholas Gonzalez, Marco Huerta and Sean Stanton (all of whom have since graduated) highlight some of the site’s new features:
Clear navigation & audience-focused “portal pages”
“The main navigation bar (along the top of every page) is tailored to specific audiences,” Huerta said. “We hope this will help users find the content they want in as few as three clicks.” In addition, each audience has a “portal page” that includes resources, news and information specific to their needs. Users will also become familiar with secondary navigation on the right-hand side of the pages as they delve deeper into the site.
Quick links & getting social
“We researched what pages had the most hits, and brought those together on the home page under the ‘quick links’ drop-down menu,” Huerta said. In addition, every page includes prominent icons for accessing key content — MySJSU, Athletics and donating to the university — and integration with social networks.
The search bar now features Google-style “search-as-you-type.” The new pages have been constructed to work better with search, so as more pages are migrated to the new design and indexed by the search engine, users will continue to see improvements in their search results.
A new photo slide-show on the home page “allows users to explore our campus without having to be there,” Gonzalez said. “This feature is intended to drive interest among future students, as well as to allow alumni to ‘visit’ campus.” Beyond the virtual tour, photography has been updated across the site to better convey the character of SJSU.
Consistency & flexibility
The design and new content management system will allow individual departments to share a cohesive look that tells the outside world, “We’re part of San Jose State.” At the same time, the templates are flexible enough to let every department shine and show off its unique personality.
“We designed a template system that allows all departments and colleges to adopt the new design with ease,” Huerta said. “Their content will be displayed beautifully.”
The great migration
Three departments–Web Services, Public Affairs and University Technology Services–have worked over the past year to implement Design Creature’s ideas.
So far, only top-level sjsu.edu web pages and a handful of university subsites have been migrated to the new design, although many others have begun the migration process. Web Services is offering ongoing training and support to departments and programs as they migrate their own sites to the new design.
Most importantly, the new site was developed with the recognition that technology, user needs, and expectations will continue to change. Even at its launch, new features and improvements to the site are in the works. With the site intended to evolve over time, feedback from the campus community is always welcome.
Web Redesign Style Guidelines (draft)