New home page designed for usability and efficiency

By on March 28, 2011

By James El-Mallakh

Recently, students may have noticed a change in the University of Louisville home page. The new layout is designed for efficiency and ease of use.

“People were sitting on the home page for about two minutes on average, so we said, ‘Let’s figure out how to cut that down,'” said Jeff Rushton, the director of digital media at U of L.

The response from users has been largely positive.

Tannis Williams is the marketing manager at the Bellamy Student Apartments. She frequents the site regularly and appreciates the changes.

“It’s very user-friendly,” said Williams. “You can go directly to what you’re looking for without any hassle. You get straight to the point.”

According to Rushton, efficiency has greatly improved.

“People are getting to their information 10 percent faster than they were before,” said Rushton. “And they’re using those Top 5 links 10 percent more than they used to…They’re finding it immediately…If our audience is current, potential and future students, let’s figure out how to get them the links they need and want quickly.”

Rushton’s data confirms that most of the traffic the home page sees is to find three sites: Blackboard, ULink and student e-mail. To improve navigability, the new layout prominently features links to these sites in the top right corner of the page.

But a surprising number of U of L students still do not use the home page. Sarah Dunn, a freshman history major, is one of them.

“I never use the home page,” said Dunn. “I’ve checked it for weather alerts, but that’s about it.”

 Some faculty members are also unhappy with the change.

“We’ve had a handful of responses internally – every single one from faculty and staff,” said Rushton. “They’ve had a hard time with the change.”

Rushton explained that U of L undertook the project to update its website last year.

“When I came here, I noticed that the university was about three years behind, and the home page looked it,” said Rushton. “It looked old.”

However, this is not the end of the development process of the website for Rushton and his team. In many ways, it is only the beginning.

“Keep watching,” said Rushton. “I think you’re going to keep seeing change. We always say, ‘It’s happening here,’ so the new website needs to answer the question: ‘What’s happening here?’ And that’s one of our goals. If we can’t answer, ‘What’s happening here?’ then we need to make changes to the website. We’re perfectly fine doing that.”

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