I thought I should give a recap of our departmental website redesign project. Many of you have responsibility for a website or at least content on a website. For some this is natural but for many it is difficult to maintain. If like my job, you are responsible for a website that is the portal to services needed by your constituents then it needs to be an effective site for navigating to the desired answer. Our IT website was basically created from a general university design back when we implemented a new CMS solution. It was not terrible but it was not thought out either with respect to usability. But who has the time or interest to tackle such a problem. Inevitably I did have to tackle this, so at the beginning of the year I posed the question to our CIO listserv if anyone could suggest good Higher Education IT Websites. Got some good feedback and gravitated to the IT website of the University of Chicago. I like their quick access icons and organization based on function rather then role.
We borrowed some of the design features from the UC site and began working with our Marketing department to design a new IT website theme. We use Cascade Server from Hannon Hill so we needed to translate our ideas and let them give us a prototype. With a basic design and goals for the various navigation strategies we involved many of our IT staff in translating our current website to the new design. Of course we came up with some new pages but mostly it was a redefinition of the purpose and style for conveying the same information. Of course we had some superstars who really helped us organize it. All this leads to a pilot site that you try to get everyone to update and validate.But at some point you have to say launch and once you get close it is probably better to launch. Mistakes on the production website that your department has taken project ownership of is a good motivator to make sure it is ready for the launch. I know that was a very general recap of a process many go through but I can say that it appears our site is a great improvement over the past. We offer quick tabs (icons) for the most requested services. We have functional service areas and then we keep a running sidebar menu for a little of both.
BTW – checkout our video about IT Services on the Home Page of our Website