What is the new Virginia.edu trying to accomplish?
Each day, we speak to hundreds of thousands of people who have never set foot on Grounds and who may know little about us. How do we effectively communicate the spirit, relevance and enduring value of our University?
Serving as the front door to the University of Virginia and with over 15 million visitors a year, Virginia.edu is primarily focused on external audiences, providing a broad institutional context to those unfamiliar with us, highlighting unique information of particular importance to key audiences and serving as a major point of visibility into news, culture and community of the institution.
How did we involve external audiences?
The process was based in both national and UVA-specific data and qualitative research into what content and information our audiences want, how to organize this information and how to present it cohesively. Audiences told us at each point that they were seeking a more cohesive user experience; that they wanted to quickly understand key points, stats and what made UVA different; and that they wanted to see how the many parts and pieces of the university fit together. Select audiences—such as prospective students—also had some specific direction that was used to inform content intended just for them. Analytics gathered from the former Virginia.edu helped to shape and inform the direction of the new site.
The new site was tested with user groups, including local high school seniors, existing students, graduate students and staff engaged in faculty recruiting.
How did we involve internal stakeholders?
Constituents from the University community—including faculty, students, staff and an advisory board made up of representatives from across the University—were part of the strategy, testing and content development phases to provide input and inform the overall direction of presentation and content.
What stayed the same?
The new Virginia.edu features the same quick access to key pages and information. Top navigation stayed almost entirely the same, and top links and utilities like “search” are still visible and easy to use. Audience navigation for the new Virginia.edu has also remained the same. If you’re a UVA student or member of the faculty or staff, you’ll find navigation pages just for you, as well as key links to email, SIS and Collab, though their location has moved slightly (see next bullet).
Where is that link to email/SIS/UVaCollab?
Links to these key utilities are still on the homepage but have moved to the footer. They can also be found in the footer of any page on Virginia.edu and are accessible via both the “Current Students” and “Faculty & Staff” pages.
What informed the visual look and feel of the site?
Visually, the site is designed to express the look, feel and tone of the UVA brand. Navigationally, the site is designed to provide audiences with quick access to content such as video, photography and news. These elements are integrated seamlessly throughout the site, making them easy to find and informative.
Display on mobile devices was also a key driver for design. Many audiences now access the web primarily through mobile devices, so the need to create an experience that translated seamlessly to mobile platforms was paramount.
Why the block navigation?
The main menus on Virginia.edu were designed as blocks for ease of readability across multiple devices, particularly with respect to responsive and accessible design for mobile devices.
What was the process for this initiative?
The process began in August, 2014, and spanned five key phases.
Discovery. In soliciting feedback from the University community, University Communications was able to develop a holistic understanding of the needs of our internal and external audiences.
Strategy. This phase was intended to solidify objectives and ensure that the new Virginia.edu would meet the needs of our audiences.
Build. An advisory group comprised of stakeholders from across the University was created in order to guide the site’s core organizational and navigational infrastructure. Wireframes were tested among local high school seniors, existing students, graduate students and staff engaged in faculty recruiting.
Design. The purpose of this phase was to bring the site design to life with the UVA brand look and feel.
Content development and review. Content was developed and vetted in partnership with stakeholders from across the University community.
I have additional questions and/or see something that needs updating. Who should I contact?
For additional questions or comments, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Virginia website was created by University Communications.