The University of Texas at Austin
  • Welcome to our Web evolution

    Published: Nov. 21, 2010
    Welcome

    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.

    • Quote 2
      Tim Dini said on Aug. 24, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.
      "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." Where can I find a list of the tools or resources being used to track your engagements and interactions? Are you using any 'heat map' technologies? Also, I see you are using Wordpress, and the listed theme is named "Know". Is this a theme created by students of the University of Texas? Tim Dini
    • Quote 2
      Linda Tarrant said on April 28, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
      We recently did a redesign of our site and went live December 2010. And from the comments above, I'd say we've experienced similar 'bashing'. I feel your pain.
    • Quote 2
      DW said on Dec. 3, 2010 at 2:09 p.m.
      I'm embarrassed for The University of Texas at Austin. Not only is the homepage amateurish and cluttered, but the five mission-based core pages - About UT, Academics, Athletics, Campus Life, Community Engagement, and Research - look unfinished and lack coherent structure. It is ridiculous and unnecessary to list EVERY college, school, library, and museum on the homepage. Why does Landmarks (960x127 pixels) take up more space than the area allotted for News, Events, the Academic Calendars, The Ideas of Texas, and Tower Talk? Landmarks is an amazing program, but it's not more important than aforementioned topics. The ribbon/heraldic banner/guidon is poorly executed. I am absolutely shocked that no one resigned from the Refresh committee resigned because of the new homepage. The decision to go live with the current version of UTexas.edu is more egregious than the BOR's rejection of Herzog & de Meuron's design of the Blanton. Hundreds of thousands will visit the Blanton in its current home, but tens of millions of people will see the university's poorly executed homepage (assuming another 5 years transpire before the next overhaul of UT's web presence). Please make significant changes to the current version of UTexas.edu. Consult with external web/graphic design professionals. Ask alumni and friends of the university that are national and international award-winning designers/marketers to donate their time and skill to help modify the Redesign. President Powers's desire is set The University of Texas on a path to become the best public university in America. However, the university's current homepage looks as if it belongs to a cash-strapped high school.
    • Quote 2
      Jared said on Dec. 3, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.
      The redesign is awful. Seriously. It really is a cluttered mess. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to have 500 links on the front page. And why are the two links on the front page to the "landmarks" page? Why do we need two links to the same page??? And don't even get me started on the "landmarks" and how ridiculous they are... not one person I've met on campus likes them. Come on UT, we can do much better than this.
    • Quote 2
      rick said on Dec. 2, 2010 at 11:33 p.m.
      This is a horrible design. Look at mit.edu, stanford.edu, or harvard.edu for examples of much less cluttered layouts. Can we please go back to the previous design, or at least admit failure and try again? Also, the search function is nearly worthless since so many very old and obsolete pages are returned.
    • Quote 2
      Hamza Benamar said on Dec. 2, 2010 at 5:39 p.m.
      If UT was in Paris, half of the population would have descended on the streets to protest this horror. The other half would have called in sick due to the cluttered visual. Unless you add a button I can press and out comes a fresh Baguette, I want my old UT back. On a more serious note, sometimes different may not necessarily mean better unless one articulate what the intangible benefits are to the naive user.
    • Quote 2
      Victor said on Dec. 2, 2010 at 2:51 p.m.
      Was this tested on some users before release? I found the front page very badly executed. There are 5 rotating pictures, each with a caption. I want to see the story so I click on the caption. Nothing happens. I click on the number of the picture, nothing happens. I fire up a different browser. Same. Finally I figure out that you need to click on the picture to get to the story. I'm sure Jakob Nielsen has something to say about that. Btw, this system with rotating headlines with a number is used on the MacWorld & TheRegister site, but executed better: the numbers are roll-over, and by clicking on them you go to the story. In the UT setup, going to the story takes a few clicks too many.
    • Quote 2
      Virginia Raymond said on Dec. 2, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.
      How much did this redesign cost? If the redesign rendered the website more usable to people with disabilities, or speakers of languages other than English, I would be all for it. But the features you identify have nothing to do with such users. What a crying shame, and how infuriating when we DO have many pressing needs and when critical programs (including CMAS, yes, where I work) must respond to short-sighted and narrow, apparently purely quantitative, measures of their value. Interdisciplinary ethnic and gender studies centers must justify small classes, but it's fine for y'all to talk about "top-level pages that are richly, dynamically and freshly populated with content, by means of a sophisticated content management system, Drupal." Lots of adjectives but no "content" to your "content." Moreover, I'm sick that my coworkers and I (at my other job, a non-profit community organization) spent our time on a test of the old website's usability; I thought I'd agreed to provide comments specifically on the volunteer/service learning website or, then, once we got into it, for some Diversity & Community Engagement purpose. Finally, if I remember correctly, the people who came to conduct this test/waste of our time were VISTA workers. Such use of the VISTA program is wrong. You spent money that UT needs for more important thing, you wasted our social justice wages of zero to $20.00 and hour and you misused federal resources. Office of Public Affairs: Fail.
    • Quote 2
      Judy said on Dec. 2, 2010 at 10:34 a.m.
      The new UT homepage has a distinctly "commercial" look about it, and the ribbon at the top is like an ad for margarine.
    • Quote 2
      --helen said on Dec. 2, 2010 at 9:51 a.m.
      Beautiful! Not!! "Where's the Tower?" "And is that maroon!?" Changing the web page at finals time is inconsiderate, to put it mildly. If I raise the font to legibility the text runs off the side. UTDirect has a compensating arrow at the bottom, to hide the side bar; the main page doesn't have that. [Some sites (elsewhere) can be enlarged w/o having to fiddle at all to read everything. That would be an improvement!] IF I were going to keep the main page open while I worked, the rotating pictures would be a distraction! I'm not going to look at it long.
    • Quote 2
      Sarah said on Dec. 2, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.
      It's obvious this was a design by committee. You can try to sell it as beneficial all you want, but that method always turns out a huge mess... just look at the new Texas license plate. The site has a poor (and depressing) design. I'd recommend that this "committee" hire a professional designer to take another look at this asap. Then step out of the process.
    • Quote 2
      ma said on Dec. 1, 2010 at 7:37 p.m.
      I believe that Tyler's criticism of the homepage is valid. As an active alumnus, I regularly contribute both my time and money to UT-Austin. The redesigned homepage is not befitting of an institution that aspires to be America's great public university. The finished project possesses the classic characteristics of a graphic designer's nightmare - the Refresh committee likely modified the original design proposal until its members/stakeholders felt that each of their respective units received pixels on the homepage. The result: a page that contains too much content and poor design choices. The McCombs and Cockrell schools have each established and promoted their brands via their respective websites; please consult some of their web designers. The Development Office recently redesigned their site and did so with great success. In any case, leave the design to the professional designers; ask the deans to take a hands-off approach.
    • Quote 2
      Mrla Henley said on Nov. 30, 2010 at 6:33 p.m.
      It is hideous, confusing, cluttered and not recognizable as being UT. What a waste of money, when so many are not receiving raises, being laid off or asked to take significant pay cuts.
    • Quote 2
      st said on Nov. 30, 2010 at 8:04 a.m.
      Where is the UT symbol motto: "what starts here changes the world" in the new homepage? that may be one of important representations of UT. But I cannot find this in the new version. and the image of the UT tower also disappears. basically, I don't like this new website. It loses the UT symbols: tower, motto... The new website of UT can be the website of an any other university. It looks like a website of community university. Just think how much pride and ambition contain in the saying "what starts here changes the world."
    • Quote 2
      Tyler said on Nov. 29, 2010 at 9:01 p.m.
      I am not a fan of this redesign. The homepage, the main view for so many prospective students, let alone media and other persons is a cluttered mess with no visual hierarchy. Where did this branding come from for the logo on top of a brown striped ribbon? Why are there different navigations between the homepage and interior pages? Athletics doesn't even have a sidebar, the other pages do have sidebars and then research has an expandable/collapsible navigation but only on click, not on rollover... The gradients are hideous in the navigations... oh man throw it all out please.
    • Quote 2
      Alex said on Nov. 29, 2010 at 1:50 p.m.
      The funny thing is, if I was turning this website in as a design project for a web designing class here at UT, I would most likely fail the assignment. It's sad that a design that what would receive a very poor grade in a class here at UT is actually the home page for the whole institution.
    • Quote 2
      Marla said on Nov. 29, 2010 at 8:22 a.m.
      How on earth was there money for this major redesign (of dubious merit, to read the comments here) when staff have had no raises in two years and people are being laid off?
    • Quote 2
      Joe B said on Nov. 28, 2010 at 7:24 p.m.
      I'm sure a great deal of effort went into the redesign, and there are certainly some very nice elements. However, as others have already commented, the page is far, far too busy. The cycling images are distracting, and the presence of 100+ links is overwhelming. Links should provide the possibility of requesting desired detail without being subjected to overdose of undesired detail. The redesign has some signs of a design-by-committee where each stakeholder got to put something on the homepage. The best suggestion I have is to cut the clutter by about 80% and create some useful second layer pages to include anything that doesn't fit on one relatively small and uncluttered page (the suggestions to look at MIT are on the money).
    • Quote 2
      Gary said on Nov. 28, 2010 at 5:34 p.m.
      I don't really like the new layout at all. It is a little bit more difficult to find what I need as a far as current student services goes. The main page is cluttered beyond belief as well. The layout is ok once you get used to it, I guess. Also, the ribbon thing is incredibly tacky. I don't know how that got past the first stage of development.
    • Quote 2
      Webster said on Nov. 27, 2010 at 11:24 p.m.
      There is absolutely no reason include a link to every school, college, library, and museum on the homepage; in that way, the redesign condescends to anyone that visits the site. The "Outstanding Facilities" page needs updated. Many of the pages that are supposed to highlight/showcase our world-class faculty and students contain information woefully outdated information. The "Ranking & Kudos" site is also inaccurate; not every program is ranked annually, however there are almost a dozen that need to be updated. Please replace the guidon; hold a student design competition that is judged by the GSD&M co-founders. (Note: The "What Starts Here Changes The World" tagline above the search bar does not appear in Google's Chrome browser).
    • Quote 2
      Na said on Nov. 27, 2010 at 5:54 a.m.
      Oh,i admit the new one looks nicer and more friendly, but I can't find where to log onto the website...
    • Quote 2
      Paul said on Nov. 25, 2010 at 12:17 p.m.
      On the off-chance that either Tevin or Ralston is checking back here, could you please further explain your objection to the use of the "guidon" on the homepage, and what makes it "completely inappropriate?" I'm guessing from the comment about the service academies that it's some sort of objection to the military association, but the use of heraldic banners is not exclusive to the military, and there is ample historical background going back to medieval times which explains the use of heraldic imagery, maces/scepters, etc. to represent academic institutions. Just as two quick examples, please see the images and descriptions from UT El Paso and Texas Tech: http://ia.utep.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=13454 http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/commencement/macebanners.php But if I'm missing something else about the perceived inappropriateness of this imagery, I would love to be enlightened.
    • Quote 2
      Joseph Durwitz said on Nov. 24, 2010 at 2:37 p.m.
      The design of the new homepage has as much subtlety and sophistication as a sequin-encrusted Ed Hardy tank top; it is not appropriate for The University of Texas at Austin.
    • Quote 2
      DL said on Nov. 24, 2010 at 12:51 p.m.
      Looks nice. The top half is appealing. I would remove everything below Search Here to reduce the information overload. Have a link to that content instead.
    • Quote 2
      Justin said on Nov. 24, 2010 at 12:06 p.m.
      Drupal is amazing. Yet, the new homepage includes a tremendous amount of clutter. Providing a link on the homepage to literally every school, college, library, and museum at the university makes it seem as if UT-Austin is condescending to everyone that visits the site. Landmarks is a wonderful program, but its banner consumes a disproportionate amount of pixels (that's coming from someone that majored in both design and art history). I sincerely hope that the Resfresh team reevaluates the homepage's design and implements changes. Simplicity is the key. The current design of the homepage has the subtlety and sophistication of a sequin-encrusted Ed Hardy tank top.
    • Quote 2
      Shel said on Nov. 24, 2010 at 11:16 a.m.
      Where's the UT directory gone? And where's Search this website? Don't care about Search KNOW... Need to find pages, fastest way was Search this website. Sigh.
    • Quote 2
      Ezequiel Calderon Jr said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 11:22 p.m.
      Definitely like the new look! Way to go, UT!
    • Quote 2
      Brian said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 5:03 p.m.
      The redesign is a BIG improvement. But it is still TOO BUSY!! As someone else said, look at MIT's website. It's all about simplicity. In the end, this pretty much sums it up: www.xkcd.com/773 > Brian
    • Quote 2
      Tevin Bowden said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 4:27 p.m.
      The redesigned homepage includes ~150+ clickable links; there is a ridiculous amount of clutter. I disagree with Ralston, a first-year graphic design student could produce a much more attractive layout. It looks as if three or four different pages worth of material has been dumped onto the main page. Seriously, someone call GSD&M and beg them to suggest some refinements. Both Harvard and MIT have truly amazing homepages. The guidon that reads "The University of Texas at Austin" is cute on UT Direct, but it is completely inappropriate for the homepage. The shift to Drupal is commendable. However, the graphic design is embarrassingly bad. Please consider consulting some graphic design experts that are not in the employ of UT-Austin.
    • Quote 2
      Sungjin Jun said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 2:27 p.m.
      The new website looks neat!
    • Quote 2
      Blake said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 2:21 p.m.
      Well, change isn't always the easiest to get used to, BUT I do like the new renovation of the Utexas.edu website. Great job guys, Hook em'.
    • Quote 2
      JP said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.
      The old website was a thousand times better. This new one is a cluttered mess... and that ribbon looking thing is just flat out tacky. There's way too much information (99% of it unnecessary) on the front page. Look up Harvard's website. That's how it should be done. UT's website is now an embarrassing mess.
    • Quote 2
      Annette said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 11:02 a.m.
      The timing for releasing the new site is incredibly abysmal. The last thing I want to do is re-learn a complictated homepage interface during my finals (which are happening now for grad students).
    • Quote 2
      Lara said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 10:57 a.m.
      Took you guys long enough. And now I can't find anything.
    • Quote 2
      Laura said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 10:14 a.m.
      I think the organization is excellent! It's apparent the new design was well-planned. It will take some time for those who were used to the old site to become accustomed to the new site, but it's worth the effort. I haven't tested it yet, but I hope the search function has been optimized; the old one was a pain. - UT Advertising Alumna (Ralston, clearly you have not visited the sites you mention above. This site sets standards for universities.)
    • Quote 2
      christina said on Nov. 23, 2010 at 9:52 a.m.
      I like the new looks:) good job~
    • Quote 2
      David Chen said on Nov. 22, 2010 at 8:34 p.m.
      Hook em Horns!!
    • Quote 2
      Jodyann Dawson said on Nov. 22, 2010 at 3:20 p.m.
      The website is awesome!I absolute love the new design and layout. It is much more feasible and interactive than previously! Keep up the excellent work!
    • Quote 2
      Dan Demmons said on Nov. 22, 2010 at 2:57 p.m.
      Absolutely gorgeous folks! Big Drupal fan here, and you've done an amazing job with your site! I've never seen the old one, but this new one is fantastic and you should be proud of it. Great work! -Dan
    • Quote 2
      Ralston Chambers said on Nov. 22, 2010 at 2:32 p.m.
      I appreciate the effort that was put into this project. However, the University's new homepage looks as it were designed by a first-year graphic design student. There is too much clutter on the page. Princeton, MIT, Harvard, Yale, UVA, UCLA, Michigan, and every other academic institution within The University of Texas System have websites worth imitating. What is the story behind the guidon? Who approved that? Our nation's service academies don't even feature guidons on their respective homepages. Ask faculty members within the psychology, marketing, advertising, and design departments for detailed feedback on the redesign. Please implement the changes that they recommend.
    • Quote 2
      Jared Pessetto said on Nov. 21, 2010 at 9:53 p.m.
      I don't want to bash all the work that has gone into this redesign, but I think the last webpage was more attractive. Perhaps just change the main menu fonts and such to make it look more polished. Perhaps it just needs time to be refined.
    • Quote 2
      Rachel said on Nov. 21, 2010 at 9:25 p.m.
      I think it's interesting that this endeavor was "dubbed the Refresh project." Isn't that the same name of Pepsi's new marketing campaign?
    • Quote 2
      Caren Troutman said on Nov. 21, 2010 at 7:18 p.m.
      Wow, the new webpage truly took my breath away! I'd been on earlier in the day and logged in later just to touch base and saw the refresh. It looks great. I know there was a lot of hard work and thought required to get here, thanks to all!
    • Quote 2
      Audrey Reynolds said on Nov. 21, 2010 at 6:18 p.m.
      It looks fabulous! Thanks for all your hard work!
    • Quote 2
      Brandon Gottesman said on Nov. 21, 2010 at 4:41 p.m.
      THIS IS WAY TOO COOL!!! :)
    • Quote 2
      David said on Nov. 21, 2010 at 4:17 p.m.
      I am blown away by the new website. Fantastic job...I wouldn't expect anything less, however, from The University of Texas :)
    • Quote 2
      Tweets that mention Welcome to our Web evolution « Know -- Topsy.com said on Nov. 21, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.
      [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adam Petrovsky and Yvonne Rice, Seth D. Olson. Seth D. Olson said: Welcome to our Web evolution - University of Texas at Austin News http://goo.gl/fb/6wBRm #technology #IT [...]
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