Redesigning the college website to better communicate with its audience
A user experience challenge of any college website is being able to communicate the right information to each audience, in a way that is clear and discoverable. These audiences include future and current students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni and the community. Each of these audiences has distinct needs and goals for a college website, some of which may be shared between different types of audiences.
This project uses Farmingdale State College’s website as an example and how it can be improved to better serve the needs of the different users who use and rely on the website.
A key step of this redesign was to asses the current state of the website, how users interact with it, and each audience’s goals. We spoke with students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders about their experience with the website and what content they use regularly. We also received user-submitted feedback about the site and what issues they were facing.
Using this research and feedback we identified three key issues:
Students, faculty, and staff need one-click access to campus services that they use daily (college email, OASIS, or Angel).
Users found it difficult to find different types of content on the website using search. The campus directory, for example was on a different system and was not searchable using the site’s primary search box.
Users found that the navigation was overwhelming, frustrating, and was not organized in a clear or understandable way
We also ranked the homepage’s content, determining the importance of each feature to the different audiences. With this information, we developed sketches and wireframes for a streamlined user experience for the different types of users.
We sketched several options for the layout of the website, each exploring different ways of providing the most relevant links and information to the different audiences.
Wireframes were then created which outline the core layout and functionality of the site. Shown are the different hover states, search, and login user flows. We decided to pursue an option where the core homepage navigation is audience and task driven. The experience is straightforward and the relevant content for each user type is immediately discoverable. Using our research, we included one-click access to email, OASIS, and Angel; as well as improved search suggestions.
As design options were explored, final design comps were completed and a functional prototype was then built.