The Redesign is Over, Long Live the Redesign

The Refresh Project ended in November 2010 with the launch of the redesigned website. As with any website, the design and content will continue to evolve as the needs of our users change and new technologies expand our possibilities.

Future work on the university’s website will include bringing more content areas into the Core Drupal CMS service and incorporating responsive design elements into the site. Responsive websites automatically rearrange content based on the visitor’s screen size, which allows one website design to work for smartphones, tablets or desktops.   The university hopes to use progressive enhancement to make gradual changes but there may need to be more complex changes to allow for a responsive design.

We plan to leave these blog pages up for historical documentation. Comments are closed but, if you have any questions about our process, please email web at utexas dot edu.

Posted in CMS, Content, Information Architecture, Mobile

UT Mobile Refresh

UT Mobile
As part of the UT Web Refresh, a new version of the UT Mobile Web is being introduced today at Get information and services you need when you are on the go, including:

  • Alerts & Safety: Learn about any emergencies on campus, and get one-click access to campus police, medical services and other emergency phone numbers.
  • Academics: Access Mobile Blackboard, eGradebook, MOCA course polls, course-instructor survey and mobile/full sites for colleges/schools.
  • Athletics: See news, scores, schedule and rosters for UT sports teams.
  • Calendar & Events: View UT holiday calendar. Find out what’s going on around campus. See event listings by date.
  • Campus Life:
    • Bevo Bucks: View your Bevo Bucks balance and transactions. See a list of BevoBucks merchants.
    • Dining: Find locations, hours and menus for dining on campus.
    • Housing: Access your student housing account, submit a housing maintenance request and read news and alerts.
    • Landmarks: Learn about the sculptures around campus through audio and written descriptions.
    • Wildflower Center: Learn about native plants, browse the image gallery, ask plant questions.
  • Directory & Search: Search UT using a mobile friendly Google Search. Find students, faculty and staff at UT. Get one-click access to call or e-mail them.
  • iPhone App: Download the UT iPhone App which has a GPS-enabled campus map, video, songs, news, directory, events, sports, Landmarks and more.
  • IT & E-mail: Get help with one-click access to the ITS Help Desk. See the latest ITS services status alerts.
  • Libraries: Search the UT Library catalog by keyword, title, author and more. Get info on hours, location and loan periods for UT Libraries.
  • Maps: Make quick links to the old UT Mobile campus map, UT shuttle bus schedule from Capital Metro and the UT Parking Twitter feed.
  • News & Social: Read stories from Know, Daily Texan, TowerTalk and Stardate. Watch videos from the UT YouTube channel. Connect with UT on Facebook and Twitter. Explore the UT Social Media Directory and discover blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube content. complements the official UT iPhone App. If you own an iPhone, we highly encourage you to download and use the native app. A new version of the iPhone app will be available very soon, with wonderful new features for students.

UT Mobile is a collaborative effort made possible by Information Technology Services, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the College of Fine Arts, the Daily Texan, the Development Office, the Division of Housing and Food Service, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, McDonald Observatory, the Office of Public Affairs, the School of Law, Texas Sports, University Libraries and University Operations.

Interested in contributing to If you are a UT developer and are interested in building mobile sites or applications to be included in UT Mobile, or if you know of other existing UT mobile sites or applications, please contact us at

Go mobile!

Posted in Mobile

Refresh Update

In August 2009, the Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and Information Technology Services initiated a joint project to enhance the university’s Web presence. Since that time, we have been working with stakeholders across campus to introduce a new set of Web designs for campus.

We are nearing some key milestones and want to make sure everyone is aware of the upcoming changes:

On Aug. 1, a new look and feel will become available in UT Direct. The availability and functionality of UT Direct services will not be affected, but most UT Direct services will take on a new appearance. To learn more about UT Direct and to take a sneak peek at the refreshed UT Direct design, visit

In September a new mobile site will be released. This improved mobile site responds to new innovations in mobile technology and will provide enhanced content for Web-enabled mobile devices.

In early November the new core site will be released, including a new home page, new mission-based and audience-focused pages, and updated navigation and utilities.

Throughout the remainder of 2010 and 2011 we will be working with webmasters and stakeholders to distribute new design templates across campus, support the adoption of our new look and feel, and spread our revised Web branding across the university.

Posted in Uncategorized

Content Is King

The content phase of the university’s Refresh project began in earnest in late March with a production schedule slated through June. The primary directive of the content development period was to build on the solid work from the research and information architecture stages of the project.

The core Refresh content team from the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) and Information Technology Services (ITS) assembled 10 content working groups – of more than 30 university community members – that met regularly during this period. All told, we held more than 20 meetings to determine the direction of content for the university’s new Web Central site.

The goal of the content working groups was to create two products for each of the site’s core pages to pass along to the content management system/Drupal implementation team: 1) a content outline for each of the mission-based navigation pages, the audience-based navigation pages and the utilities pages and 2) a page layout wireframe sketch for the same sets of pages.

In addition to producing these two artifacts for each core page, the content working groups were tasked with identifying an initial content provider, a content owner(s) and a business owner for each page.

As the core Refresh content team defined these roles, the business owners are the stewards of the core pages – for the life of the pages – providing guidance and review/approval of the overall messages and content created for the pages. The content owners will be the active caretakers of the pages: identifying new content, making the content updates in Drupal and working with other content providers across campus to ensure the pages represent initiatives across the university.

The concept of identifying a business owner and a content owner for each core page is a critical step in ensuring the content on the pages meets the quality standards set forth in the Refresh project goals.

As defined by the recommendations of the research and information architecture working groups, the five mission-based core pages are:

  • About UT
  • Academics
  • Campus Life
  • Community Engagement
  • Research

These five pages will support an interior navigation of sub-pages. The narrative-style content will reflect the university’s excellence in these areas.

The only narrative content that exists on the core pages of the existing Web Central site is for the Research page, so developing new content narratives about the university’s bragging rights on the other four mission-based pages will be a powerful and compelling addition to the university’s Web site.

The four audience-based core pages are:

  • Students
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Alumni & Friends

These four pages will be portal-type pages to provide quick access to get daily tasks done.

The content will focus primarily on task-based link sections, but will also have a narrative element in the form of feature stories. As evidenced in the research and information architecture phases of the Refresh project, the university’s core Web audiences want quick and easy access to the daily tasks they need to perform on the Web, and these four portal pages will support that.

The six utilities pages are:

  • Colleges and Schools
  • Maps
  • Directory
  • Calendars
  • Offices
  • Contact

Including the utilities pages, about 40 pages total will round out the core site for our Refresh debut.

To help with the transition from the content working group phase to the Drupal implementation phase, the core Refresh team also defined a suite of “content widgets” to support the variety of content needs that were identified by the content working groups. These “content widgets” include:

  • A rotating feature marquee
  • Modules for combinations of text, thumbnail photos and hyperlinks
  • RSS feed consumption for blogs, news and Twitter
  • Promotional graphics/icons

The content outlines and wireframes are now finalized, and through the month of July the business and content owners for each of the core pages will work on developing any new content as defined in the content outlines.

That content will be delivered by August and poured into the Drupal system by the core Refresh team.

Once the content has been poured, the business and content owners will have another opportunity to review the core pages before the debut of the new Web Central site.

Once the new site is released in late fall, ITS will offer Drupal training for the content owners of the core pages, and they will then officially become the caretakers of the core pages of the university’s new Web Central site.

Posted in Content

Web Success Metrics

In addition to the new design, information architecture and content management system for, another primary goal of the Refresh project is to consistently measure our Web site.  The Refresh project charter states as a primary goal:

Rigorous measurement: The university will employ tools and resources to better understand how well we are meeting our key metrics. Beyond basic Web analytics, the university will also actively track conversions, engagement and interactions.

To that end, we have added a campus-wide Google Analytics report to supplement the Information Technology Services Urchin 6 service as well as site-specific Google Analytics reports.

We developed the Web Success Metrics report to track and evaluate our Web sites.

Awareness. We are measuring awareness by the percentage of visitors who come directly to our site without using a search engine or following a referral link.

Engagement. We are assessing engagement with three different measurements: repeat visits, internal site usage and level of site usage.  Repeat visits are visits from visitors who have previously been to  Internal site usage is the percentage of visitors who use the search function on  We are using the depth of visit — how many pages visitors access during a visit — to determine the level of site usage.

Goal Conversion. We are also reviewing the online giving form and overall online giving by visitors to our Web sites.  To obtain the percentage of conversions on the online giving form, we track the number of page views on the online giving form and the number of page views on the confirmation/thank you page.

Social Media. Monthly we track the number and percentage change of Facebook fans, Twitter followers and YouTube views for all the social media sites that are listed in the Know Social Media Directory.  For the official UT social media pages, we track more specific interactions including posts, likes, comments and visits.

The Top 10. Each month we examine three top 10 categories: content pages, keywords and traffic sources. Top content pages are the Web pages with the most page views. Keywords are the words most frequently typed into search engines to visit  Traffic sources are the top 10 specific ways visitors come to our site including direct traffic, using a search engine (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) and following a referral link.

We are collecting our monthly baseline metrics in order to evaluate the existing site and our impact when the new design debuts. Our intent is to consistently review our metrics and make data-driven updates as needed to reach our goal of rigorous measurement.

Posted in Content, Web Metrics

What Starts Here Changes the World

As we wrote in the blog post “The Content of the Home Page,” we will have five topics of action-based “quick links” on the home page.  The labels for these five areas — Apply Here, Visit Here, Learn Here, Live Here, and Work Here — relate directly to the university’s brand: “What Starts Here Changes the World.”

With these themed-collections of links, we will provide an easy and fast way for our Web visitors to get to the most important or popular services at the university, based on what they want or need to do.

From the research analysis, the Information Architecture (IA) working group members identified a number of links that could be included under these topics. We also conducted a survey of Web publishers on campus, asking them to identify which links they would put under the topics.

The frontrunners from the compiled results are listed below:

  • Apply Here
    • Undergraduate Admissions
      • First-time Freshmen
      • Transfer Students
      • International Students
    • Graduate Admissions
    • Future Students: Be A Longhorn
    • Financial Aid
    • Tuition & Fees
  • Visit Here
    • Arts & Attractions
    • UT Tours
    • Maps
    • Parking
    • Calendars
    • Discover Austin
    • UT Traditions
  • Learn Here
    • Blackboard
    • Registration
    • My Classes
    • Degree Programs
    • Continuing Education
    • Study Abroad
    • Research & Discovery
  • Live Here
    • Housing on Campus
    • Dining on Campus
    • RecSports
    • Healthy Horns
    • Student Life
    • Transportation
    • Living off Campus
  • Work Here
    • Faculty Jobs
    • Student Jobs
    • Staff Jobs
    • HR Services
    • Teaching Tools
    • UT Direct
    • WebMail
    • WebSpace

We will conduct more research and usability tests to make certain these links and labels are the best ones to include. Also, after we debut the redesigned Web site, we will continue to analyze the efficacy of this section and the links that are included, and to make adjustments as needed.

If you have any comments or feedback on these links, please comment on this post or send e-mail to

Posted in Content, Information Architecture, Research

Status Update

We’ve made a lot of progress on the Refresh project, and we have a lot of work going on right now, so I’d like to take this opportunity to share updates about our status.

Information Architecture. Our information architecture (IA) phase — including research, architectural recommendations, and wireframes and page function diagrams for the home page and core pages — is complete. I want to thank the Refresh IA working group, a team of designers, IA specialists and technologists from across campus, who put in significant time to create a solid and data-driven foundation for the redesign.

Design. Our home page and UT Direct framework designs are complete and have been shared with a number of key constituents, including the Refresh Committee, the Administrative IT Leaders’ Group and the Vice President for Public Affairs. Our core page designs are undergoing final discussions now and will begin implementation within days. Andy Greer of the College of Communication has given great time and energy to this project, and I want to thank him for a forward-thinking and exciting set of designs.

Content. The Office of Public Affairs and Information Technology Services (ITS) have been meeting almost daily with nine content working groups that represent key constituencies for the site.  We are working together to produce the 40 pages that we have defined as the “core site” for initial redesign.  Six of those nine groups now have a “first pass” content outline complete.

Implementation. Our development Drupal installation has been up for several months now, and we’ve completed our proofs of concept for the “cache-and-push” model that will allow our managed pages to match current performance and availability.  We are now producing Drupal content types to match the outcomes of our content working groups and are working on connectivity with Know to ensure that campus news, features and social content have a dynamic presence across our Web.

UT Direct. The UT Direct user interface has been implemented and is now undergoing campus-wide testing in the administrative test environment.  UT Direct stewards are busy refining and updating user interface (UI) elements in response to the good feedback we’ve received from the developer community.

Analytics and Metrics. The university has added a campus-wide Google Analytics report to supplement the ITS Urchin service as well as site-specific Google Analytics reports.  In addition, we have upgraded Urchin to version 6.  The range of data we are generating will help us analyze how our audiences interact with our university and departmental Web sites. Content experts and webmasters have been meeting monthly to discuss their findings during the Web Success Metrics group under Keri Ungemah.

Mobile. The revised mobile site will take advantage of the UI capabilities of smartphones (including Android-based phones) and is intended as a complement to the official Texas iPhone application.  We have completed a prototype of our new mobile site using an open-source framework initiated by MIT and maintained by West Virginia University.  We are  elaborating on that prototype, connecting it to our university’s data resources and preparing to implement a UT-specific look and feel.

Our Next Phases. We’re happy that the Refresh project is on its target to deliver a new home page, new designs and a new set of core pages to the university community.  However, when this phase concludes in the fall, there will be plenty more work to do: while our current scope is on the order of a few dozen pages, hundreds of pages within the Web will need to integrate over time with our design changes.  While the centralized UT Direct environment will see global change, our distributed public Web will have a gradual migration to our new look and feel.

We are preparing for the “long game” here by keeping Refresh working groups and teams organized, by planning for iterative maintenance and extension, and by preparing resources for campus webmasters, such as distributable templates.  We look forward to working with the community on an ongoing basis as Refresh transitions from a project to an ongoing structure for collaboration and improvement of our university Web presence.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Content of the University’s Home Page

Information Architecture Working Group

The Refresh Information Architecture (IA) working group was delegated responsibility for determining the information architecture for the university’s Web site at The working group charges were to:

  • Define standards in information presentation for the university
  • Define the core content
  • Determine the core site structure

Consisting of Web developers, publishers and information experts across campus, the IA working group met weekly (and more) from September 2009 through February 2010. The members conducted research, gathered data about the existing Web site, analyzed the results of both and created the final Refresh Project information architecture products. These products were shared with the core Refresh Project Team, the Refresh Committee, and the design, mobile, content creation and content management system implementation groups.

The research:

  • Focus groups with staff and students
  • Interviews of staff, students, faculty, alumni and visitors
  • University peer site review
  • Surveys

The gathered data:

  • Content inventories
  • Search terms
  • Web site metrics and analytics

The final products:

  • Existing site heat map
  • Site diagram
  • Personas
  • Page function diagrams
  • Task analysis
  • Wireframes

Each working group member participated while continuing to work at their primary jobs – no small sacrifice and one that is greatly appreciated. Without such a group of interested, bright and exceptional people, the Refresh Project would not be where it is today.

Refresh Information Architecture Working Group Members

  • Jennifer Coast, Information Architecture Lead – ITS Applications
  • Keri Ungemah, Research Lead – Office of Public Affairs
  • Nyleva Corley – Office of Public Affairs
  • Carey Christian – ITS Applications
  • Jeremy Cumbo – College of Fine Arts (now with the Office of Development)
  • Jackie Dana – Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts
  • Jennifer Jobst – ITS Communication and Strategy Management
  • Susan LaRonde – College of Communication
  • Jennifer Knott – Continuing and Innovative Education
  • Chris Latham – University Operations, TRECS Web Team
  • Ly Ann Peterson – Office of Development
  • Tom Reavley – Purchasing Office
  • Carol Roberts – ITS Applications
  • Megan Rucker – ITS Applications
  • Rachel Strain – ITS Applications
  • Andy Greer, Designer – College of Communication

Determining the Content of the Home Page

One of the more challenging aspects of any Web redesign project is how to structure and organize the content. For the IA working group members, this task was especially difficult due to the breadth and depth of the information that The University of Texas at Austin – comprised of numerous colleges, schools, departments, research units, centers, museums, institutes and administrative offices – needs to share.

What was the best way to organize and share information about the university? Through the months of data collection, research and analysis, one fundamental concept kept rising to the forefront: everything the university does is in support of its mission. Furthermore, all the information our Web site visitors want to access is related to what the university does. It seems obvious now, doesn’t it? So, the IA working group members had the answer: we would categorize and collate our information around the mission and core purpose of the university.

Mission-based Navigation

Once the IA working group members identified the core theme by which we would organize our information, we had to determine the top-level topics that would encompass all the university’s activities and services that support its mission:

The mission of The University of Texas at Austin is to achieve excellence in the interrelated areas of undergraduate education, graduate education, research and public service. The university provides superior and comprehensive educational opportunities at the baccalaureate through doctoral and special professional educational levels.

The university contributes to the advancement of society through research, creative activity, scholarly inquiry and the development of new knowledge. The university preserves and promotes the arts, benefits the state’s economy, serves the citizens through public programs and provides other public service.

The IA working group members selected five topics that would allow users to learn about the university and the services it offers. These topics, which became the “primary navigation” elements of the site, are:

  • About UT
    • To provide an overview of the university and to share why “What Starts Here Changes the World.”
  • Academics
    • To highlight teaching and learning at the university and to share how the university “provides superior and comprehensive educational opportunities at the baccalaureate through doctoral and special professional educational levels.”
  • Campus Life
    • To highlight the benefits of belonging to The University of Texas at Austin community and to illustrate how the university’s core values of learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity and responsibility can be realized through being a part of this community.
  • Community Engagement
    • To highlight the outreach, service and community engagement activities that the university conducts to “preserve and promote the arts, benefit the state’s economy, serve the citizens through public programs and provide other public service.”
  • Research
    • To highlight the extensive research that is ongoing at the university and to share how the university “contributes to advancement of society through research, creative activity, scholarly inquiry and the development of new knowledge.”

Each of these topics will comprise a collection of pages that offer compelling, engaging stories and information about the university, its community members and its services.

Community-based Navigation

While the primary navigation elements will provide access to information about the university, we determined that an additional avenue of access into the site was necessary, one based on the needs of the core members of our community, who are:

  • Students
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Alumni & Friends

The redesigned pages for these core audiences will serve as portals to the services and information offered by different colleges, schools and offices across campus. The pages will collect, categorize, feature and promote services that each core community member needs in order to learn, teach and conduct research, and to interact with others who are doing the same.

“Students” will replace “Current Students” because we will no longer have a “Prospective Students” page from which to differentiate. Data from research indicate that, while prospective students and their parents discover information about the university by visiting pages created especially for them, they believe they get a more honest overview of the university by reading pages not created for them. Based on this finding, we decided to provide admissions information on the home page via a method other than a prospective students portal and to share prospective students’ information on other pages. We will expand on this in a future Refresh blog post.

Action-based Links

In addition to the mission- and community-based pages, there will be five topics of action-based “quick links” on the home page:

  • Apply Here
  • Visit Here
  • Learn Here
  • Live Here
  • Work Here

The labels for these relate directly to the university’s brand: “What Starts Here Changes the World.” With these themed-collections of links, we will provide an easy and fast way for our users to get to the most important or popular services at the university, based on what they want or need to do. We’ll share more about the action-based links in a future Refresh blog post.

Features, News and Events

Our home page narrative content – features, news and events – demonstrate the university’s brand. This narrative content will showcase how our students, faculty, staff and alumni are changing the world and will reflect and highlight the teaching, learning, discovery and public service conducted at the university.


Search is one of the more popular tools on the home page and will continue to be one of the more prominent elements. A search box will appear on the home page and on every mission- and community-based page in the core site. The search will encompass people (from the directory) and university Web pages. The IA working group also recommends that the search results include offices and places, if time and technology allow.

Utility Links

In addition to a search box, there are several links that the IA working group members identified as being useful or practical to everyone who visits our site.  These utility links will appear at the top of the home page and on every mission- and community-based page near the search box:

  • Colleges & Schools
  • Directory
  • Libraries
  • Offices
  • Maps
  • UT Direct

Popular Search Terms

The university uses Google Custom Search for its search engine, and we are able to track the most popular searches. If our Web visitors are searching for these services, then we need to provide the most direct route. There will be a space on the home page to display these terms. Regular analysis of the popular search terms will allow us to revise and update the links and information we provide on the home and core pages to meet the needs of our Web visitors.


There are projects and programs with university-wide appeal that need to be highlighted on the home page. These are topics of special interest to the entire university community and initiatives the university wants to promote. Such items include “Tower Talk,” the president’s blog, or “Ideas of Texas,” an initiative for community members to share and review ideas to improve the university. One example of an item that could be spotlighted because of seasonal interest is “Flu on Campus,” a Web site created by University Health Services that is used to share information about the H1N1 virus. The topics included in the Spotlight section will change as needed.

Academic Calendar Alerts

An academic calendar element will display academic calendar events, such as registration times, last day to drop, winter holiday, and finals week. Displaying this information on the home page will help our Web visitors feel engaged with the university’s schedule, as well as provide this information prominently to our core community members.

Giving to the University

To promote and support philanthropic efforts, there will be a Make a Gift link near the top of the university’s home page. We will also include a story about how giving to the university benefits our students while they pursue their education or about what the university is able to achieve with the help of its donors.

Also, the Campaign for Texas, an eight-year, $3 billion comprehensive fundraising effort to increase The University of Texas at Austin’s national competitiveness and global impact, will be spotlighted on the home page.

Universal Navigation

One of the discoveries during the research analysis phase is that our Web visitors want to go directly to the college or school with which they are affiliated. Also, many visitors are interested in what the university does and where they can visit if they come to campus. The data were compelling, and the IA working group members determined that including direct links on the home page to these areas was important.

As such, we have developed a universal navigation element that will be on the home page and on the mission- and community-based pages that will include links to each college and school and to places to visit, including libraries, museums and centers.


The area at the bottom of the university’s home page will serve as a place to include links that we need to share on every page:

  • Contact
  • Emergency Information
  • Sitemap
  • ITS Help Desk
  • UT Mobile
  • © 2010 The University of Texas at Austin
  • Web Privacy Policy
  • Web Accessibility
  • Resources for People with Disabilities
  • About this Site
  • UT System
  • State of Texas
  • Statewide Search
  • How to Report Fraud, Waste and Abuse
  • Online Institutional Résumés

These links may grow or change due to legislative mandates.

Beyond the Home Page Content

The redesign work continues. The products of the IA working group were shared with the core Refresh Project Team, the Refresh Committee, and the design, UT Direct, mobile, content creation and content management system implementation groups. We’ll share more on the status of these project phases in the coming weeks.

Posted in Information Architecture, Research

Research is complete

The research portion of the Refresh project is complete.  Here are some key findings of our surveys, focus groups, peer site reviews and metrics analysis.

We conducted four focus groups, 11 interviews and received 897 survey responses from a wide array of audiences, including faculty, staff, current undergraduate and graduate students, prospective undergraduates, parents, alumni, and the public. A warm thank you goes out to everyone who helped in this process.

Survey Results Overview

897 respondents – all colleges and schools represented
•    46% Staff
•    21% Prospective Undergraduate Students
•    14% Current Graduate Students
•    8% Current Undergraduate Students
•    4% Faculty
•    2% Alumni
•    2% Parents

Home page and UT Direct usage frequency
•    64% go to home page at least once per day
•    49% go to UT Direct at least once per day

Mobile type
•    31% iPhone
•    36% Other Smartphone
•    33% No Web-capable mobile device

Frequency – access Internet via a mobile device
•    38% at least once per day
•    15% infrequently
•    47% never

Descriptors – how respondents would like to describe the new Web site
•    Easy to use
•    Informative
•    Clean
•    Searchable

Top Web site usage by audience
•    Staff, Undergraduates, Parents and Prospective Undergraduates – Home page and UT Direct
•    Faculty and Graduate Students – Libraries and UT Direct

Strengths of current site
•    Easy
•    Directory and search access

Weaknesses of current site
•    Search
•    Hard to find information

Task importance by audience – Click for larger view

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Mobile task importance by audience – Click for larger view

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Even More Research

The Refresh Information Architecture working group developed content inventories, personas, search term analysis, Web site metrics and peer site reviews.

Peer Site Reviews

Our peer review analysis consisted of two different forms. We organized a peer review activity with each focus group. Participants in the focus groups were asked to evaluate the positives and negatives of home pages of 10 peer institutions and then select their favorites.  This information is being utilized to identify visual and layout preferences.

The Refresh Information Architecture working group completed a detailed 116-question survey on 23 peer institutions.  The peer review survey results provide detailed information on everything from naming conventions to content placement to technology usage.  For instance, on home pages of sites reviewed, only 15% use the entire width of the screen but more than 70% have information that you have to scroll down to see.

Web Site Metrics and Heat Map

We pulled the average monthly clicks from Dec. 2008 – Nov. 2009 on every link on the current home page to develop this heat map – click for larger view:

Heat Map - Click for larger view

Legend (average):
•    Red: More than 100,000 clicks/month
•    Orange:  99,999 – 25,000 clicks/month
•    Yellow: 24,999 – 5,000 clicks/month
•    Green: 4,999 – 2,500 clicks/month
•    Blue: 2,499 – 1,000 clicks/month
•    Purple: Fewer than 1,000 clicks/month
•    Grey: No data available

Next Steps

We are analyzing all of our mountains of data to develop recommendations based on our audience-focused research. Our next steps include creating wireframes for the home page and second-level pages.

Posted in Research

Survey Results Strike Twice

A large number of University constituents completed the Refresh Survey, giving us an opportunity to collect valuable data that can drive enhancements to the University’s web presence.  The survey created a forum for a large audience to respond with their concerns and ideas for the websites and applications targeted by the Refresh effort.  The high-quality feedback we received allows us the opportunity to have real data drive the Refresh information architecture process and inform our operational efforts as well.

A recent example of this double utility is the great feedback we received about UT Direct. The UT Direct stewards have closely reviewed the Refresh survey comments section and have isolated responses specific to UT Direct.  The long-term goals of the Refresh effort are intended to address these responses. However, the UT Direct stewards have used this data to catalyze enhancements to UT Direct that can be accomplished in the short term.

Many of the comments made about UT Direct in the survey indicate a need to optimize the search function in UT Direct.  As a result of these suggestions, we are taking action to improve the performance of the current UT Direct search.  We will engage UT Direct service developers to promote the update of keyword data for registered services and the renaming of services so they are easier to find when using UT Direct search.  This ongoing engagement process will begin in January 2010.

Moreover, we are in the process of re-writing the UT Direct Service Registry using the Django framework and the Python Production Environment (PyPE).  This project will provide an improved experience for developers registering applications and support more sophisticated search and sitemap functions in UT Direct.  Our goal is to launch the new UT Direct Service Registry before the end of 2010.

The survey results also showed that many users have difficulty navigating from the UT Direct homepage to the specific service they are looking for.  We plan to address this feedback by creating new Inline Services for the UT Direct homepage: Most Popular Student Services, Most Popular Staff Services, and Most Popular Faculty Services.  We will determine what the most popular services are using data gathered with Urchin.  These new services are slated for release in the spring of 2010.

We are excited about this opportunity to use the Refresh survey results to drive both short and long term UT Direct enhancements!  The goal of all of these efforts is an improved UT Direct experience for users and developers alike.

We are hosting an FYI on January 13, 2010 at 10:30 am in CBA 3.202 to further discuss the details of these enhancements.

Posted in UT Direct