New UVic website on the launching pad

Sustainability cover
New UVic homepage

A reinvented website will soon replace the existing home page for the university. The new look, new architecture and many new features are the result of months of research, planning, building, multiple feedback opportunities and repeat testing by a cross-campus team of developers and advisors.

The one-size-fits-all approach, which saw a single homepage struggling to meet the varied and complex needs of both internal and external communities, will be replaced with a series of “pathways” customized to the needs of particular audience segments.

The university’s central home page—uvic.ca—will now be more externally focused in order to better meet the needs of UVic’s key external audiences and support the university’s strategic objectives with these groups. Given the pre-eminence of UVic’s student recruitment objectives, the prospective student pathway will open by default. Other audiences will be able to choose their pathways from the prominent and easily identified audience bar.

Sustainability coverInternal audience homepage

The needs of the various constituencies within the campus community will be met by a new “internal homepage” at www.uvic.ca/current or reached through the “Current students, faculty and staff” pathway on the audience bar. Campus community members can make this their default homepage at any time using a highly visible button on the page.

The redesign has been well received by prospective audiences in testing, particularly senior high school students, who suggested that the new design made it easy to find what they wanted.

As with any change, the new approach to the university’s central web presence is going to take some getting used to by the communities that engage the university’s central web presence day-to-day. The navigation works differently; other than www.uvic.ca/current, the focus is more explicitly developed for audiences outside the Ring; and the daily heartbeat of the campus is not as obvious at uvic.ca as it was.

With that in mind, and as a way of introducing the site, we’re sharing some of the feedback that we heard from the campus community during our final rounds of testing. The input is being used to fine-tune the site before final launch.

What’s going to happen to all of those quick links I’ve been using every day on uvic.ca?
The all-things-to-all-people approach left too little room for any one audience and could only provide the most general kinds of information. This was not helpful to those who did not already understand how the university is organized. Instead, we have developed multiple “home” pages or “audience pathways” for our varied audiences that provide better access to the things they want. If you are a current student, faculty member or staff, “your” website will now live at www.uvic.ca/current and the quick links (plus some new ones) are all there.

Why the big photos and smaller text?
You only get one chance to make a first impression and the quality of our students, faculty, staff, research and the “UVic experience” are all worth putting front and centre in a big way. For anyone coming to our website for the first time, we want to make sure we impress upon them UVic’s strengths and the things that make us distinct.

We tested the text size with multiple audience segments and it represents the best choice to make the copy both accessible and legible. With the variety of platforms, browsers and screen resolutions in use, however, some people will likely want to adjust the text size. To do this you can use the text resize tool found at the bottom of every page.

Where do I find the library now?
After consultation, we have placed library links at many places throughout the site. The libraries get a navigation link in every section, and in several sections there is additional text explaining library benefits specific to the audience. In the “Current students, faculty and staff” section there is a link in the left-hand column of quick links in the same position as on the current homepage.

What happened to the news features?
UVic Communications staff are more engaged than ever in providing both internal and external communities with an ongoing picture of the achievements, community engagement, events and announcements that make up the daily life of our campus. We have provided a “News and events” button in every major audience pathway, and users of the “Current students, faculty and staff” segment will also recognize that the feature photo, news, events and announcements appear much as they always have. Additionally, we now provide RSS feeds for each of these frequently updated areas, and we are investigating the possibility of allowing the audience to comment on our stories in the near future.

Bloggers and movies and tours (oh my!)
One thing that we found constantly when interviewing high school students and other prospective audiences was that they wanted to get a sense of what it is like to be here. To do this we have put an emphasis on the sights, sounds and stories of our campus. “Tours and visits” provides an overview to life here, 360-degree panoramas of the campus, and even a Google Earth build-out of our campus provided by facilities management. And through “Life at UVic,” we provide insight into the lives of some of the people who study and work here, and an opportunity for you to offer your own insights.

Is the new site finished?
Websites are dynamic communications vehicles that change with their audiences. During development, new possibilities have emerged that we are eager to explore, and we anticipate that you will also find ways to help us improve the site. Please send your feedback to webcoor@uvic.ca.

In addition, discussions around effective models of web service delivery are currently under way to determine how best to take the new look, feel and structure beyond the central pages covered in the uvic.ca project and throughout the university’s web presence.

Watch the announcement box on uvic.ca for the latest on a launch date.

   
 
 
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