The University of Dallas will launch its newly designed website this summer, according to Ken Starzer, the Online Marketing Communications Specialist and head of the project.
The project began late last summer when surveys were issued to students and faculty regarding the current website.
“Based upon our student-faculty survey and the focus groups that we performed in the fall, we found that the current site is hard to navigate,” Starzer said. “Students had difficulty finding what they needed, and faculty and staff had difficulty uploading and maintaining their pages.”
In response to this information, Starzer formulated two primary goals.
“I wanted to make it easier for students and faculty to find what they need, and I wanted to make the content management easier,” Starzer said.
To do so, Starzer made the links that are most used or most popular on the old site more prominent. For example, rather than having the “majors and concentrations” link under “academics,” Starzer created a bar at the top of the home page labeled “majors and programs.” Not only are all majors and concentrations listed under this link, but each program has its own page, which lists all required courses and includes professor profiles.
Each department page will also include a link to success stories, detailing how current students or alumni have benefited from their degrees.
“I wanted to give a voice to the departments so they can tell people coming in what others have done with the degree,” Starzer said.
Additionally, Starzer added a Google custom search to the website, making it easier to search for and locate relevant pages.
From the results of the fall survey, Starzer also noted that the visual design of the current site fails to reflect the character of the university.
“The personality of UD is hidden – it’s harder for someone new to the site to understand the personality of our school,” Starzer said.
A website redesign advisory group was formed to help address this problem.
“The design group has been very instrumental in helping guide the design process,” Starzer said. “They have provided good feedback and a fresh perspective.”
One of the greatest changes to the design is the incorporation of three messages that most reflect the identity of the university. These messages are summed up in the core curriculum, the Catholic faith and the Rome experience, and they will be highlighted on the front page of the website.
“We’ve streamlined the process so that people can understand the personality of UD and answer the question, ‘Is this the right school for me?’” Starzer said.
Starzer is currently in the middle of transferring content from old to new webpages. He has also begun training others in content management.
The anticipated launch date of the website is June 1.