“Search is good in theory, but what do you need in practice?”
The College of the University of Chicago launched a new website this week, designed to efficiently connect current undergrads, prospective students, and other visitors to the features and information they want to see.
Work on the new design commenced last fall. The project team began their research by collecting data on site usage, and soliciting visitor feedback via online surveys and in-person interviews. On several chilly days the team tabled outside of Cobb Hall — offering warm UChicago swag in exchange for feedback from students, prospective students, and a few parents about what they’d like to see on the new College site.
Students confessed that most of the time they used a search tool for locating pertinent College information. But in addition to quick access to academic information and policies, they expressed a desire for a site that would keep them apprised of events on campus, and feature articles written by fellow students on the culture and character of the College community.
Designers worked to incorporate these and other suggestions. In deference to a student’s typical approach to the site, a large search bar now predominates the top of the page, literally front and center. The thought was “students are going to search, so let’s make that a focal point of the user experience.”
The site also forefronts the three most visited and/or relevant content areas for quick access to popular information. A redesigned "Uniquely Chicago" section continues to showcase student-produced features on the wit, creativity, and intelligence of our students and community, developed and edited by our student media team.
A new section keeps students informed about upcoming events and College deadlines. And the social media section near the bottom of the page displays the current activity on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, and includes links to our other outlets, like the College Tumblr.
As a bonus, the newly designed site introduces a new logo for the College — designed by the College’s Web Designer Thalia Kapica, AB'07.
Guidance from College offices and partner groups, including Career Advancement, College Admissions, College Information Technology, the College Media Editors, the College Programming Office, ITS Web Services, the Office of the Dean of Students in the College, the Office of the Dean of the College, Study Abroad, and University Communications proved invaluable thoughout this process.
The project team will continue to make updates to the site based on the feedback the new design will likely inspire. Email any suggestions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.