The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s bright and bold redesigned website, www.utk.edu, launched today as a key component of the university’s new branding strategy.
The website—a primary communication vehicle for the university—has been reworked to better serve its many users and to convey the new look and feel of the university. Over the past year, the site has had 14.7 million visits for an average of 40,000 visits per day.
The Office of Communications and Marketing’s web team last redesigned the site in 2007. The website is the primary gateway to departments within, information about, and services offered by the university. Many web users are prospective students and their parents who are gathering information for their college and university search.
Overhauling the new site took nearly a year of research and analysis, usability testing, re-architecting, and design. The project focused on not only making the site more user-friendly and accessible, but also communicating the energy and vibrant nature of the campus and our faculty, staff, and students.
Leigh Shoemaker, assistant director of Web and electronic media in the Office of Communications and Marketing, oversees the university’s five-person web team. The team designs, develops, and maintains the university’s main web presence, utk.edu, as well as websites for the chancellor, provost, the Office of Research, Undergraduate Admissions, and other academic units and programs.
“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,” said Shoemaker.
“The visual design of the site is reflective of our new branding standards. Our photography powerfully communicates the brand through up-close, single-focus images of our students and our faculty interacting on our campus,” Shoemaker added.
By researching how visitors use the site, the team developed a new top-level toolbar to give internal users what they look for every day. There is also a new “Quick Links” section to reflect the top searches as recorded by the university’s Google search appliance.
The team also is conscious of the tools visitors are using to access information online in 2012—like digital tablets and smartphones. Rather than building and maintaining a separate mobile site, the site has been coded 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.
For all requests related to the new design or other questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Templates Coming Soon
Many people are already wondering about how or when the new design can become part of their department or unit’s site.
In the coming months, the team will develop and disseminate templates for use on campus websites and for HTML emails. The team will also create a WordPress theme for departments, who will benefit from an easier way to manage their online content.
“Along with both templates and themes, we will be offering a full array of resources—from recommended color combinations, to advice on best practices for electronic media, to videos demonstrating how to update your WordPress site,” said Shoemaker.