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Redesign of Web Central, UT Direct under way

The Office of Public Affairs and Information Technology Services are redesigning Web Central, the university’s Web presence at http://www.utexas.edu, and UT Direct, the university’s business Web portal, at https://utdirect.

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The Office of Public Affairs and Information Technology Services are redesigning Web Central, the university’s Web presence at http://www.utexas.edu, and UT Direct, the university’s business Web portal, at https://utdirect.utexas.edu.

The university’s Web site was last redesigned in 2002 and refreshed several times since then in response to comments and suggestions from its users. UT Direct was last redesigned in 2005. In that time, the university’s Web presence has continued to grow, and the way in which the public interacts with the Web has evolved. To reflect the growth rate of the university’s Web site and the new and different ways our Web audiences are accessing our site, the university is developing a new framework/infrastructure, in terms of content and functionality.

One notable milestone that will debut this semester is the development of a new Web site called Know. Know will be a Web site that highlights the excellence and relevance of the university’s faculty, staff and students. It will include social media components, interactive features and new forms of content such as blogs and Twitter feeds.

Other milestones of the redesign include content management system selection; research and information architecture recommendations; and design selection and implementation.

The following key areas will be addressed in the redesign:

Engagement: Our Web redesign is aimed at fostering greater engagement with alumni, students, faculty, friends and others. Our constituencies expect to contribute content in the form of commentary or discussion, find relevant information through downloads, video and audio, and participate in a dialogue with the university. We will provide platforms for these interactions.

Content management: The university will develop a system to manage content for the university’s home page and top-level pages. To increase involvement and interaction with the site, the university will develop home page and top-level pages that are richly, dynamically and freshly populated with content by means of a sophisticated content management system. The goal is to provide more timely and fresh information more expeditiously.

Transportability: Our users access the university Web from a growing range of user agents. We can present a more targeted experience to users with mobile devices as well as those using a traditional browser environment. In the long term, we can also reconsider our key data and content as data resources that can be shared with and extended by other sites, resources and constituencies. By leveraging principles of universal design, we will focus on a site that degrades gracefully across a wide range of user agents, conforms to Web standards and is compliant with best practices for Web accessibility.

Branding alignment
: Our key domains, www.utexas.edu (Web Central) and utdirect.utexas.edu (UT Direct), will benefit from being considered holistically as two sides of a contiguous Web experience branded as the university Web.

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

The process for updating the site will be open and inclusive, bringing together and collecting feedback from university leadership, faculty, staff, students, visitors, alumni and donors. By engaging these audiences in the redesign process we will be better able to understand and address their needs, thereby making the site more useful and meaningful. A Refresh committee of representatives of key areas from across campus will provide oversight throughout the course of the project.

Read more about the project on the Refresh blog at http://blogs.utexas.edu/refresh/ and our vision for community involvement at http://blogs.utexas.edu/refresh/community-process/.

We welcome your feedback on this important project. Send us your thoughts and suggestions by commenting on any entry on the Refresh blog or sending e-mail to refresh@utlists.utexas.edu.

We also encourage you to take our Refresh survey to give us more insight into how you use the university’s Web presence and business Web portal. Visit the survey from the Refresh blog home page at http://blogs.utexas.edu/refresh/.