The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s website underwent its last major redesign in the spring of 2007. Since that time, we’ve experienced a number of leadership changes as well as a major clarification of the university’s mission and vision. We have adopted several new initiatives, expanded our reach into social media, stated our intent to become a Top 25 public research university in a decade, and on February 1, 2012, announced a rebranding of university communications.
What better time to launch a new website?
Our web team spent most of 2011 either thinking about or actively working on the redesign—reviewing online survey data, analyzing Google Analytics data, conducting usability testing, surveying other higher education websites, etc.
The 2012 redesign represents a major re-architecting of the 2007 utk.edu site, based in large part upon the way visitors use our site as well as the information prospective students hope to find on a higher education website.
Our primary navigational elements include categories of things we want to emphasize as a university—our academics, our culture, our global and community reach, our diversity, and our Volunteer spirit both on and off the field.
By pulling current news and events feeds into nearly every page of the site, the redesign demonstrates the energy and vibrant nature of our campus, as well as the talents of our faculty, staff, and students.
By researching how visitors use the site, we’ve been able to provide a more comprehensive top-level toolbar that provides access to services our internal audiences use daily. We’ve also incorporated a new “Quick Links” section on our pages that reflects top searches as recorded by our university’s Google search appliance.
We’re also conscious of the tools our visitors are using to access our online information in 2012—like digital tablets and smartphones. Rather than building and maintaining a separate mobile site, we’ve chosen to code this site responsively. Depending on the size of the screen of the device used to access utk.edu, visitors will see the same information—but oriented differently, and simpler to navigate.
The visual design of the site is reflective of our new branding standards. Our photography features our students and our faculty interacting on our campus.
There are more words on our site this time around—lists of links are helpful, but they don’t necessarily say a lot about who we are. The writing on the site has also been edited for compliance with our new editorial guidelines.
Our redesigned website serves as a living example of our new branding standards and guidelines and demonstrates how we are choosing to tell our story—the story of the University of Tennessee.
In 2012, we developed and disseminated templates for use on campus websites and for HTML e-mails. We have also released a WordPress theme for departments in need of a dynamic publishing platform for managing their online content.
In fall 2012, we performed an initial round of usability testing on the new website that provided us with good baseline data on how our faculty, staff, and students are using the site. We are planning more testing in the future, and will use the results of testing to inform periodic iterative redesigns of this site. Our first iterative redesign of the 2012 site was launched on January 8, 2013.
Along with both templates and theme, the Office of Communications & Marketing offers a full array of resources—from recommended color combinations to advice on best practices for electronic media and much, much more.
If you have questions about the redesign, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Screenshot date: December 2011
Screenshot date: February 2007