Refresh Project

The University of Texas at Austin introduced the current version of its home page in November 2010, following an extensive, community-based redesign process. Our Refresh blog tracked the progress of the project and provides useful background information.

The Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and Information Technology Services (ITS) officially started the Refresh project in September 2009. The following key areas were addressed in the redesign: engagement, content management, transportability, branding alignment and rigorous measurement.  

The project owners were Don Hale, vice president for public affairs, and David Cook, director of ITS Applications.

The Refresh Project Credits

Many members of the university participated in the Refresh project. From the start, the aim was to engage a wide range of perspectives from across the university. As such, the Refresh process was executed through the effort and collaboration of:

  • Working groups focusing on information architecture, content, design and technical implementation;
  • A Refresh committee providing oversight and feedback to the overall process;
  • The university community, whose participation and input were crucial throughout the process.

The working groups and committee included members from academic and administrative areas.

The Core Team

The Refresh project started with Information Technology Services’ Jason Craft and Public Affairs’ Dave Holston planning for a "fresh look" for the university’s Web site. Jason and Dave assembled a core team to lead the project through its completion. The group began meeting weekly in January 2009 and will continue to meet to shepherd the next phases of the Refresh project.

  • Dave Holston, Project Lead – Office of Public Affairs
  • Jason Craft, Project Lead – ITS Applications
  • David Diers, Project Manager – ITS Applications
  • PJ Abrams – ITS Applications
  • Jenn Coast – ITS Applications
  • Nyleva Corley – Office of Public Affairs
  • Keri Ungemah – Office of Public Affairs

Former members

  • Delan Kai – Office of Public Affairs
  • Cassidy Santaguida – ITS Applications
  • Rachel Strain – ITS Applications

The Refresh Committee

On Sept. 15, 2009, the Refresh process formally began with an official meeting of the Refresh committee. 

The Refresh committee included the Core Team members, plus representatives from constituencies across campus:

  • Michael Caldwell – Office of Admissions
  • Dana Cook – Financial Affairs
  • Jackie Dana – Staff (College of Liberal Arts)
  • Natalie England – Athletics
  • Shan Evans – Continuing and Innovative Education
  • Tim Green – Research
  • Kim Gundersen – Texas Exes
  • David Ochsner – Student Affairs
  • Liam O'Rourke –  Undergraduate Students
  • Kathleen Mabley – Graduate Students
  • Mark McFarland – University of Texas Libraries
  • Linda Millstone – Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Ly Ann Peterson – Development Office
  • Jamie Puryear – Texas Exes
  • Audrey Reynolds – Faculty (Provost’s Office)
  • Daniel Spikes – Graduate Students
  • David Von Hatten – Development Office
  • Rhonda Weldon – University Operations

The work of the committee officially ended with the premiere of the new look and feel (and the celebration that followed), but the experience suggested that a permanent Web committee needs to be formed to guide the university through the ongoing improvements of its Web site. The planning and formation of the committee will happen in early 2011.

CMS Selection Working Group

The Content Management System (CMS) selection team was charged with finding a CMS solution that would serve core pages within the directory structure. The team chose Drupal after an extensive investigative process.

  • Paul Grotevant, Lead – ITS Applications (now with Undergraduate Studies)
  • Robert Myers – ITS Applications
  • Jordan McCoy – ITS Applications
  • Gary Wilson – ITS Applications
  • Jason Craft – ITS Applications
  • David Diers – ITS Applications

Read more about the content management system selection process.


The main design was created by Andy Greer of the College of Communication. Additional design support was provided by Carol Roberts and Megan Rucker of Information Technology Services. Carol Roberts created many of the refinements for and Megan Rucker was the designer for

  • Andy Greer – College of Communication
  • Carol Roberts – ITS Applications
  • Megan Rucker – ITS Applications


Keri Ungemah, research expert with the Office of Public Affairs, led the research phase of the project with the assistance of information architecture working group members. The research included focus groups, interviews and surveys, which garnered the opinions of a wide array of audiences including faculty, staff, current undergraduate and graduate students, prospective undergraduates, parents, alumni, and the public. The research also comprised content inventories, personas, search term analysis, Web site metrics and peer site reviews. Additionally, Keri Ungemah and Glenda Sims conducted usability tests on early versions of the Web site. 

  • Keri Ungemah, Research Lead – Office of Public Affairs
  • Glenda Sims, Usability Testing – ITS Applications
  • Members of the Information Architecture Working Group 

Read more about the research.

Information Architecture Working Group

The information architecture working group was responsible for determining the information architecture for the university’s Web site at and defining the core pages for the university’s Web site. The group developed a new primary navigation structure that reflects the mission of the university of teaching, learning, research and public service and identified our core audiences of students, faculty, staff and alumni and friends. The research data and artifacts generated by the group also were used to support information architecture of

  • Jennifer Coast, Information Architecture Lead – ITS Applications
  • Keri Ungemah, Research Lead – Office of Public Affairs
  • Carey Christian – ITS Applications
  • Nyleva Corley – Office of Public Affairs
  • Jeremy Cumbo – College of Fine Arts (now with the Development Office)
  • Jackie Dana – Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts
  • Jennifer Jobst – ITS Communication and Strategy Management
  • Susan LaRonde – College of Communication
  • Jennifer Knott – Continuing and Innovative Education
  • Chris Latham – University Operations
  • Ly Ann Peterson – Development Office
  • Tom Reavley – Purchasing Office
  • Carol Roberts – ITS Applications
  • Megan Rucker – ITS Applications
  • Rachel Strain – ITS Applications
  • Andy Greer, Designer – College of Communication

Read more about the Information Architecture working group.

Content Working Group 

The core Refresh content team from the Office of Public Affairs and Information Technology Services assembled 10 content working groups – of more than 30 university community members – that met regularly during this period.

The goal of the content working groups was to create two products for each of the site’s core pages to pass along to the CMS implementation team: 1) a content outline for each of the mission-based navigation pages, the audience-based navigation pages and the utilities pages and 2) a page layout wireframe sketch for the same sets of pages.

  • Nyleva Corley, Content Lead – Office of Public Affairs
  • Glen Baumgart – Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Leslie Blair – Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Michael Caldwell – Admissions
  • Marissa Canales – Student Affairs
  • Laura Ceglio – Undergraduate Students
  • Jenn Coast – ITS Applications
  • Carolyn Connerat – Development Office
  • Angela Curtis – Development Office
  • Jackie Dana – Staff Council and College of Liberal Arts
  • Deb Duval – Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Forrestine Dickson – Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Lynn Eaton – Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Shan Evans – Continuing and Innovation Education
  • Tim Green – Research
  • Kim Gunderson – Texas Exes
  • Lara Harlan – Undergraduate Studie
  • Jill Hokanson – Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Blake Justice – University Unions
  • Cheryl Kaufman – Provost’s Office
  • Delan Kai – Office of Public Affairs
  • Judy Langlois – Provost’s Office
  • Susan LaRonde – College of Communication
  • Kathleen Mabley – Graduate School
  • Taylor Morrison – Undergraduate Students
  • David Ochsner – Student Affairs
  • Ly Ann Peterson – Development Office
  • Cynthia Posey – Human Resource Services
  • Jamie Puryear – Texas Exes
  • Kevin Rathge – Development Office
  • Audrey Reynolds – Provost’s Office
  • Christopher Rose – Center for Middle Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts
  • Kathleen Skinner – President’s Office
  • Ken Tothero – Learning Technology Center, College of Education
  • Keri Ungemah – Office of Public Affairs
  • David Von Hatten – Development Office
  • Rhonda Weldon – University Operations
  • Deborah Wise – Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation, College of Communication

Read more about the content process.

CMS Implementation Working Group

The CMS implementation team was responsible for creating the site in Drupal based on the work of the design, information architecture and content working groups.

  • David Diers, Lead Developer – ITS Applications
  • Paul Grotevant, Former Lead Developer – ITS Applications (now with Undergraduate Studies)
  • Christina Bain – ITS Applications
  • PJ Abrams – ITS  Applications
  • Mic Kaczmarczik – ITS Systems
  • Lewis Phillips – ITS Applications

The UT Direct Working Group

The UT Direct working group helped guide the new look and feel of UT Direct, the university’s business Web portal at  

  • Cassidy Santaguida, Lead Developer – ITS Applications
  • Ashley Adams – Information Management and Analysis
  • Paul Andrews – UT System
  • Tim Brace – Registrar
  • Gus Castellanos – McCombs School of Business
  • Matt Daumen – Recreational Sports
  • Tiffany Elliott – Development Office
  • Ben Hamill – Information Management and Analysis 
  • Alice Hatfield – Budget Office
  • Rees Haley – Housing and Food Service
  • Cooper Henson – ITS Applications
  • Clara Hernandez – Student Financial Services
  • Matt Jorgenson – ITS Systems
  • Wiley Koepp – Continuing and Innovative Education
  • Juan Martinez – University Unions
  • Cindy Morrison – Housing and Food Service 
  • Juliana Murphy – University Operations
  • Margaret Myrick – Budget Office
  • Jay Paz – Information Security Office
  • Shelley Powers – Payroll Services
  • Kyle Royder – Controller
  • Charlie Scott – Information Security Office
  • Chapman Shoop – Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Matt Steitle – University Operations
  • David Voegtle – Development Office
  • Jessica Waldrop – International Office
  • Dory Weiss – ITS Applications
  • Larry Yang – McCombs School of Business

The UT Direct Implementation Working Group

The UT Direct implementation working group was responsible for architecting and implementing the new design. This included updates to many design elements in use throughout the site.  

  • Cassidy Santaguida, Lead – ITS Applications
  • Sueann Gruber – ITS Applications (now with Office of Accounting) 
  • Cooper Hensen – ITS Applications
  • Meredith Ottens – ITS Applications
  • Carol Roberts – ITS Applications
  • Simi Shonowo – ITS Applications

The Working Group

The working group was responsible for creating a new version of the Mobile Web,

  • Glenda Sims, Lead – ITS Applications
  • Lewis Phillips, Developer – ITS Applications
  • Megan Rucker, Designer – ITS Applications

Please read more about UT Mobile.

Community Support

The Refresh project would not have been successful without the support of so many people. We would like to extend a warm thank you to everyone who helped with the Refresh project, including: 

  • Brad Englert, Liz Aebersold and Cam Beasley for helpful review and feedback on the project’s process.
  • Jefferson Stewart, Cooper Henson and the members of the Administrative IT Leaders (AITL) group for their oversight for and guidance of the UT Direct Refresh.
  • Web developers across campus who created content for the new Mobile site.
  • Gary Wilson, Travis Campbell and Jordan McCoy for their systems support.
  • The Office of Public Affairs Know Web site team members -- Marsha Miller, Christina Murrey, Samantha Stiles, Mason Jones and Christopher Palmer -- for their invaluable creative feedback and stewardship of content for Know and the university's home page.
  • Kathleen Mabley and Michael Caldwell for their generous contributions of content throughout the site.
  • Will Hannah for his work providing Know stories and events.
  • Blake Grugett, Marissa Canales and the Web publishers and communicators within the Division of Student Affairs for their review of the Campus Life and Students pages.
  • Chris Latham and Neal Gibson for their review of the Safety & Security information.
  • Jeremy Cumbo for his work on the CMS implementation for the Alumni & Friends pages.
  • Lewis Phillips for the Web accessibility review.
  • Charlie Scott and Jay Paz for their application security reviews.
  • Parents, alumni, faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, prospective undergraduates and members of the public who participated in our usability tests, focus groups, interviews and surveys. 
  • Web publishers across campus for their feedback throughout the life of the project.