Fourteen years after its initial launch on April 14, 1994, the University of Virginia has completed its seventh home page redesign (see History of U.Va. on the Web). The new home page has been enhanced to include more links and features, serving as a single source location for users. New features include expanded fly-out navigation, dynamically generated featured calendar events, dynamic A-Z search, expandable special interest features, enlarged Week in Photos, and the ability for users to set preferences for displays on the Home Page and second level pages. The new special interest, or audience, pages employ many aspects of Web 2.0, allowing users to guide their experience of the Web site through customization and interactivity. Even with the additional content and functionality, the site has been streamlined to a reduced file size. Please read more about the new features below.
Expanded Fly-out Navigation on the Home Page
The content from the stand-alone second levels (Welcome Center, Happening at U.Va. [Things to Do/U.Va. News], Schools, Medical Center [Health/Medical Center], Research [Research and Centers], Libraries, and Public Service [Public Service/Outreach]) has been put into expanded fly-outs, giving users one-click access directly off the home page to where they need to go. The stand-alone second level pages have been eliminated, so users can now get where they need to go directly from the home page. U.Va. Mobile has been added to the navigation, giving the user one-click access to all the handheld options U.Va. offers.
July 23, 2008 update: We asked users to vote on their choice for navigation display on mouse-over action or mouse click. The results were close to evenly split, so we created a Site Preference panel that allows the user to set navigation fly-out action as mouse-over or mouse-click. The default is mouse-over.
Expanded Week in Photos on the Home Page
Addition of the Featured University Calendar Events on the Home Page
Using RSS feeds from the new University Calendar, featured events are now dynamically displayed directly on the home page, giving users the opportunity to always know what is going on at U.Va.
July 23, 2008 Update: User Sets Preferences for Module Display, Search, and Navigation Display
A number of respondents over the summer asked for the "Today's News" module or "Today's Featured Events" module to be displayed instead of the Week in Photos. We made this a user preference, so the user can set the module they want. The Week in Photos is the default module displayed.
Users also asked for various Searches (People, Web, Library) to be set as the default search, so we have allowed the user to set their own search default. The People search is the default search.
Dynamic A-Z Search Directly on the Home Page
Users can now search the A-Z Web site Index directly on the home page. The user can type in any letter and all the site titles beginning with that letter will display, if they type in a word all the site titles containing that word will appear.
Expandable Special Interest Feature Sections on the Home Page
Each of the special interest pages has an expandable section on the home page with important links and time driven features. This allows the user to stay on the home page, while getting more audience-driven information. The audience groups are Prospective Students, Current Students, Alumni and Friends, Parents and Families, and Faculty and Staff.
Enhanced Weather Icon on the Home Page
The weather feature on the home page now has more icons to help more clearly illustrate the weather at night.
Update: Rotating Home Page Photo
The original version of the Home Page displayed a single photo of the Rotunda. Users and survey respondents asked us to restore a rotation of Home Page photos, which we have done (July 18, 2008). We have added a survey question about the photos. The plan is to swap these out more frequently than we did on the current Home Page. Update July 23, 2008: We substituted the original Home Page Rotunda for one shot lightly further back. We now have eight photographs rotating, including student shots, athletics, the U.Va. Hospital and downtown Charlottesville. These photos rotate every 7.5 seconds, on a slower rotation than the Week in Photos.
Expandable Featured Links
This important section has been a great place for users to get one click access to important links. Now that this section is expandable there is room for even more links.
Featured Event on the Home Page
Graphic features of major events are now featured on the home page. We will use this spot for highlight of University-wide interest and hope to swap out the feature frequently.
Auto Refresh Operation Schedule
To keep users informed of emergency information, the operation schedule on the home page automatically refreshes every 3 minutes. This is the spot to look for emergency notification.
The new home page has been expanded from 850 pixels to 950 pixels, the increased width gives room for more content and allows for more features helping make the Home Page a one stop location.
With this new redesign of the Home Page, we have moved from table layout to CSS-based layout. This separation of design from content reduces the overall size of the page and allows for the page to have a gentle degrade to simpler versions for older browsers.
Update: July 23, 2008: New Layout Options
On June 26, we presented three layout options that responded to the following user requests. A number of respondents have asked us to place the Search function directly on the page itself, and not in the top navigation bar. Many students and faculty also requested putting the Toolkit (now Collab), ISIS, and the COD in more prominent places. We have made these changes and posted two new versions on June 26, 2008. The version which received the most votes is now displayed as the new home page (version A) and is the version we went live with on August 1, 2008.
Customizable Special Interest Pages
The new special interest pages (Prospective Students, Current Students, Alumni & Friends, Parents & Families, and Faculty & Staff) are now completely customizable as well as dynamic. Using the new programming language Ajax and cookies, users can move content around the page to best suite their needs. Users can also add and remove link sections, add RSS and calendar feeds, and create custom link sections.
Drag and Drop Organization
You know what information and links are most important to you. Now you can customize your experience, organizing what information you want displayed and in what order. Click on the header area of any of the gray content boxes and drag into any other spot in the content area.
Do some of the link sections just not apply to you? Minimize them. Each of the gray content boxes, and even your custom ones, can be minimized.
Update July 23, 2008: Customizable Calendar - Under Development
You have the option of including the new unified University Calendar directly on your personalized page. A Phase 2 option will be to allow the user to make the selection of category display. The calendar will update dynamically with the day's events.
Update July 28, 2008: RSS Feeds
Like to keep up with U.Va. News? You can choose from a variety of U.Va. news feeds and always have the latest headlines on your personalized page. Choose from UVA Today, Headlines @ U.Va., Cavalier Daily, Health System, U.Va. Library, Human Resources, and more.
Are there sites you often use, but we do not already include on the page? No problem, you can create your own custom Quick Links box. Input the URLs you most often use and have direct access to them right from your personalized special interest page.
On the top of each special interest page is the same featured content section as on the expandable section of the Home Page. These feature sections are customized for each special interest group and include quick access to some of the most requested sites and rotating feature graphics highlighting upcoming major events and important timely Web sites.
A-Z Web Site Index
You can search the new dynamically driven A-Z Web Site Index directly from your customized special interest page. Search for an entry that starts with a certain letter or includes a keyword or string of letters.
Update July 28, 2008: Cookies
What's Missing or Moved
Computing and Academics Pages
The stand-alone Computing page is no longer going offered, instead users will be directed to ITC. The stand-alone Academics page is also no longer being offered, instead the links have been distributed on to the appropriate special interest pages.
Collab, ISIS & COD
These links have been added directly to the home page and removed from the featured links.
New Home Page Survey
Please help us improve the new home page by filling out the new Home Page survey and share your thoughts. We take user feedback into consideration and will post both comments and question results.
The 2008 U.Va. Home Page is the result of work done by a University-wide team of faculty, staff, and students. In the Web Communications Office: Nancy A. Tramontin, Director of Web Communications; Jonelle Kinback, Assistant Director of Web Communications; Nicole Breeden, Web Communications Associate; Carey Hill, Web Communications Assistant; and Diane Bishop, Web Developer. Megan Jacobs Read is the site designer. Photographers: Dan Addison, Jane Haley, Cade Martin.