Website Redesign Launch

Posted on September 13th, 2021 by

The Gustavus website redesign will be launched in just a few short hours. It has taken a lot of work to get us to this point, and we appreciate all of your patience and understanding as our focus has increasingly been drawn toward this final push. Beyond our typical refresh of the basic look and feel of the website, we’ve also managed to pack in a substantial number of performance improvements that will offer some subtle, but helpful advantages. More noticeably, we’ve completely revamped the navigation schema to better follow standards and practices that were codified by Google, and utilized by numerous others. It will represent a significant departure from our previous structure, and we fully expect a fair amount of confusion. Rest assured, there are easy ways to find most everything on the site. The search improvements we made last January, for example, have continued, and we hope that the search will replace some of our excessive reliance on link lists.  

Speaking of link lists, the footer, once home to dozens and dozens of links to various offices on campus, has finally been cleaned up. This so-called “mega footer” will be missed by many, but our research clearly indicates that this concept, and the trend that it inspired, is not a healthy one. It takes the emphasis off better organized sites that can be navigated intuitively, and leads to a disjointed experience that relies on these massive link dumps to perform. In short, the mega footer was a band-aid that allowed us to ignore the pain of a much larger problem. While the newly launched site will be far from perfect, our efforts going forward will include much more thought on site architecture, and less on these entirely too convenient shortcuts.  

I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the other major thrust of this redesign effort. The Marketing and Communication team worked with many other areas across campus to do an extensive content refresh for most of our top-level pages. These pages are extremely popular with prospective students, so not only will the site look different, many pages will feature completely new content that highlights our community and our work. The effort that went into this endeavor was nothing short of staggering, and we expect that only a fraction of this new content will be in place for launch day. We will continue to update and refresh pages throughout the year, working with our partners in Marketing, and we couldn’t be more excited.  

Finally, after launch, we plan to reach out to all of you for your input. You may notice problems, or have concerns, and we will do our best to address as many as we can. Again, it’s important to note that this work takes time. Websites are always changing and adapting, and while we put a lot of emphasis into trumpeting a fancy new design, much more work occurs in the years between website launch dates. It’s an ongoing, never-ending, but usually interesting process that will hopefully include your feedback. If you run across an issue, such as a typo, or broken link, or something just doesn’t look or work right, feel free to use the feedback link located at the bottom of the page. You can also email us at web@gustavus.edu and we’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as we can.  

 

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