Saturday, February 9, 2008

Campus Life: a before and a possible after

Cindy Baker, Henry Broaddus, Steve Salpukas, and others on the re.web project team are talking weekly about the new design for the W&M site. We're having a lot of fun seeing what second-level (landing) pages might look like.

Applying the new design to the current Campus Life page results in a startling and welcome contrast.

posted by Susan Evans


Ashwin said...

Wow! These pages are really awesome and a vast improvement!!

Anonymous said...

agreed! I think video content should use flash though and not quicktime.

Anonymous said...

I dislike the header on the new page. It looks like a header someone with no design experience would create. The menu selection intersecting the picture looks clumsy. It is also too large, half the page is the header. And what's with the grey and more grey color scheme? Boring and lacks class.

Anonymous said...

The photos are too dark, and the large menu across the photo isn't effective. Try again!

Anonymous said...

One of the things that keeps jarring me visually is the lower-left tagline of '398 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, VA', obviously put there by the Stoners, who don't know our true address. Can you have them update this? It just pulls my eye so much that I can't evaluate anything else properly.

John Swaddle said...

This is a big graphic improvement over the current site! There is now some semblance of navigational cues... but it still looks a little like a print magazine.

The header photo is too tall - you need to scroll off the page to navigate to some areas - which is a cardinal sin for splash pages such as this. I also agree that the menu (with text that is too large) bisecting the header photo looks clumsy - it looks as though the page did not load properly.

I also feel, quite strongly, that the user needs of these subareas have not been adequately designed into the graphical appearance or IA. This page is about Campus Life yet the predominant options in the most eye catching areas are nothing to do with Campus Life. A couple of hours of useability testing with a dozen students could help diagnose the problems.... but an obvious fix is to reduce the height of all the banner material and make the Campus Life options dynamically alive and stand out from the rest. Being shielded in grey and at the bottom left make these navigation otions visually unappealing. BTW do the words 'Opportunities' and 'Facilities' signify something meaningful and informative to students? Would they instinctively know what these links lead to? I doubt it. And surely 'Community Service' should be the top link, as it's a core value of the W&M brand?

I'll stop here as only a couple of people will ever read this and I've been making comments about web useability for over a year now, to no effect. BTW I used to do this professionally for some of the largest corporations in the US and have won design awards: e.g United, Nokia, Alcoa; so I am giving advice from an experienced POV.

SPSatWM said...

As a web designer myself, I have to say that this is a horrible, ugly, amateurish design. The banner at the top is far too large and the placement of the navigation bar midimage is sloppy. Concept 2 should have been selected. The problem here is that the design seems to have been chosing for being stylish, flashy, and full of images. This is in contrast with the principles of good website design, which emphasizes simplicity, scalability for different monitor sizes, and the avoidance of the use of excessive numbers large images which negatively impact load speeds.

In short, this is one of several decisions of late that make me question whether I want to continue to associate myself with the college after graduation.

Anonymous said...

I note that in your thumbnail for the page in your post, you cropped the page to remove the awkward portions of the design that several of the commenters criticized--you recognize those parts of the design are a problem, at least unconciously.

re.web said...

When I cropped this screen shot, it was an amateur attempt to add some interest to our blog entries. Ask any member of the re.web team ... they'll give testimony to my lacking image editing skills (right, Joel?) - both conscious or unconscious. Although I will say I was mostly unconscious (morning coffee hadn't kicked in) on the Saturday morning that I opened up Image Tricks to do this.

Here, I was trying to highlight the two special interest features in the right column of a proposed "Campus Life" landing page.

Susan Evans

re.web said...

To John Swaddle: I don't think we've met but I'm glad you've visited the re.web blog. Would love to talk with you more about your background in design and usability. I'll be in touch via W&M email.

Susan Evans