The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to debut the redesign of its home page and core Web pages today (Nov. 21). The redesign — dubbed the Refresh project — is the next evolution in the university’s comprehensive Web presence.
The university’s home page averages about 170,000 unique visits and more than 4.3 million hits per day and is the largest opportunity we have to communicate with a varied audience of faculty, staff and students, prospective students/parents, alumni and friends, corporate partners, media and the public.
UT Direct, the business portal for the university, receives five to six million hits per day and is the central resource for students, faculty, staff and the broader community’s online business with the university.
The New Features
This redesign release marks the third and final milestone of the Refresh project, which also included redesigns for UT Direct (utdirect.utexas.edu) and the Mobile Web (m.utexas.edu), as well as the Know Web site that highlights the contributions and achievements of faculty, staff and students.
The new core site includes:
- a new information architecture that puts popular Web resources and services front and center,
- new mission-based and audience-focused pages,
- redesigned and updated search and directory utilities, and
- a wealth of news, features and events information from Know, the university’s communication hub.
These key areas were addressed in the redesign:
- Engagement: If we are to win the support of our constituents and increase their participation with the university, we must provide opportunities for engagement. Our audiences expect to contribute content in the form of commentary or discussion, find relevant information through downloads, video and audio and participate in a dialogue with the university. By providing platforms for these interactions, the university turns visitors into ambassadors.
- Content management: The university developed a system to manage content for the university’s home page and top-level pages. To increase involvement and interaction with the site, the university developed home page and top-level pages that are richly, dynamically and freshly populated with content, by means of a sophisticated content management system, Drupal.
- Transportability: Our users access the Web from a growing range of user agents. We can present a more targeted experience to users with mobile devices as well as those using a traditional browser environment. In the long term, we can also reconsider our key data and content as resources that can be shared with and extended by other sites, resources and constituencies. By leveraging principles of universal design, we delivered a site that degrades gracefully across a wide range of user agents, conforms to Web standards and is compliant with best practices for Web accessibility.
- Branding alignment: Our key domains, www.utexas.edu (Web Central) and utdirect.utexas.edu (UT Direct), benefit from being considered holistically as two sides of a contiguous Web experience branded as the university Web.
- Rigorous measurement: The university has employed tools and resources to better understand how well we are meeting our key metrics. Beyond basic Web analytics, the university will also track conversions, engagement and interactions.
A Community Process
In September 2009 the university’s Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and Information Technology Services began the extensive, community-based redesign process. In the Refresh blog, we tracked the progress of the redesign process.
To make the information architecture, design and content decisions that guided the Refresh project, extensive research was conducted, and we listened to the Web needs of the university community.
The redesign involved the participation of dozens of members of the university, bringing together and collecting feedback from university leadership, faculty, staff, students, visitors, alumni, parents and donors.
By engaging these audiences in the redesign process we were better able to understand and address their needs, thereby making the site more useful and meaningful. A Refresh committee made up of representatives of key areas from across campus provided oversight throughout the project.
We are deeply grateful for our community’s support. Read more about these contributors and the Refresh project.
Share Your Feedback
We’re thrilled to bring you the university’s newly redesigned Web presence, and we’re excited about the next steps. This is an ongoing project, and we remain committed to continuous improvements on the university’s Web.
We welcome your feedback on this project. Tell us what you think about the university’s Web evolution. Send us your thoughts and suggestions.