changes style and content

Allison Smith

Web site design suits students’ preferences

The design for the new Kent State Web site offers improved navigation and will launch in late September. Photo courtesy of University Relations

Credit: DKS Editors

By late September, the Kent State Web site will be getting a makeover.

Iris Harvey, vice president for university relations, said the Web site is a major asset to the university.

“It’s a portal to the world,” Harvey said. “The Web site actually makes us very global and provides a channel to communicate with people everywhere.”

Harvey said the university did 12 different studies to see what elements people look for most in a university Web site.

“Before we even started doing anything, the first thing was to understand, do a needs assessment of our target audience,” Harvey said.

Harvey said they discovered it is not only about the Web site’s aesthetics, but also more about the navigation and functionality of it.

“We really peeled the onion down to the most important parts,” Harvey said. “We looked at the navigation of the site – what is the navigation system, how does that work; what is the nomenclature that we use to name navigation items, how well does that work; what’s the functionality, how well is it? What’s the whole branding of the entire site? You know when you move from the home page, to a college’s Web site or to a specific program, is it obvious that you’re in a Kent State University Web site?”

Many students and parents wanted to see a virtual tour of the campus on the Web site, while others wanted a financial calculator, Harvey said. Students also wanted to read success stories and blogs from current students and faculty members.

Aesthetics is still very important, Harvey said. She said the Web site needs to be easy to read and should contain pictures of people on campus.

The Web site is collaboration between information systems and university relations. The organizations came together to work on the project and ultimately came up with two designs, Harvey said. University relations took it back to the community to vote on the best one, she said. The design chosen is focused more on navigation than aesthetics.

“We also got some good critique on the design that they preferred,” Harvey said. “So we’ve tweaked that and made some adjustments to improve it.”

Harvey said she noticed a lot of students complain about the lack of things to do at Kent State. She said there are things to do, but she thinks students just don’t hear about it. As a result, a calendar will also be a prominent feature on the Web site.

The Web site is still in the programming stage, Harvey said, but the first part of it should be up and running by Sept. 30 and completely finished by February. Harvey said each college is looking to update its Web site as well to make Kent State’s Web site more universal.

“We have templates, if you will, that will easily allow them to translate their content and their unique personality into the Kent State brand personality.”

Contact principal reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].