Web site undergoes extreme makeover
October 12, 2009 —
The University’s Web site has sported a new look since Friday — one that SVSU Web Communications Director Jason Swackhamer says is designed to make navigation easier for Cardinals and prospective Cardinals alike. Feedback from focus groups of students and faculty back in April sparked a redesign process that isn’t over yet.
“We don’t take offense when we are approached with suggestions,” Swackhamer said. “We can’t think of everything. We try to do our best but we’ll miss things.”
After some last-minute work to ensure the site’s compatibility with Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 8 Web browser, www.svsu.edu, is officially open for business.
Swackhamer determined early on via a virtual heat map used to plot user mouse clicks that the Quicklinks feature on the homepage was a user favorite. The old Quicklinks menu produced a dropdown list that included links to student and faculty e-mail and Vspace.
The new Quicklinks feature appears at the top of the homepage and at a click reveals an enhanced, expandable menu.
The menu prioritizes a similar list of commonly accessed pages, placing Vmail, Vspace and M-Drive links at the top and going further to include links to the bookstore, students’ print balances and the course catalog, among other hot categories.
Users should find navigation more logical. Designers created an organization scheme tied more closely to themes than by offices or departments, said Holly Larose-Roenicke, assistant director of Web Communications.
“It’s more logical in terms of hitting what you’re thinking,” she said.
The Current Students link under Resources on the main page directs users to a comprehensive list of categories that ranges from Student Life to Money Matters to Health & Safety.
Swackhamer said the restructuring of these categories should help Cardinals find all the links they need.
The same page places emphasis on a list of campus events: something Swackhamer says came out of focus group suggestions.
Next on the Web team’s project list is a completely new events calendar. Web Communications is collaborating with Student Life, Athletics, and the Conference and Events Center to make the site a one-stop shop for all campus events.
The calendar will automatically update as soon as someone books a room or area of campus. Students will be able to receive e-mails or text messages reminding them of selected event dates and times.
Visually, Swackhamer said the rotating images on the homepage will reflect changing themes. The first theme involves a numbers approach, highlighting SVSU passing the 10,000-student mark among other numerical points of pride.
The old homepage feature that profiled accomplished students and faculty received positive feedback and will makes its return.
Larose-Roenicke said images on the old site layout didn’t accurately depict the spirit of SVSU.
“I truly feel that the new look captures and depicts who we are,” she said.
Other potential improvements fill the Web team’s wish list, Swackhamer said, including revamping the A-Z index and directory.
“Web sites are never done,” he said. “They are launched, but never done.”