when a website goes live, it doesn’t go dead.

Over the weekend, we began rolling out the new web design for oswego.edu to a pretty good reception. The design portion of the project — from first comps to launch — took less than three months, an exceedingly short window in higher education, so it has been quite a rush. But throughout the process I’ve emphasized that the new look is only a first step.

Screenshot of new home page

What we really wanted was a look that was cleaner and less cluttered than the previous design, which had a lot of colors and tables and suffered the misfortune of aging the way anything does in seven years web time. The new look is a skin we’re putting over pages migrated into our new content management system, Ingeniux, which topped some 200 other contenders (when the CMS team started) in large part through ease-of-use for our nearly 300 campus editors. But it’s also a powerful CMS we’ll tap more in the future.

As we were tasked with having the new design up before the Admissions cycle heated up this month, and since we have a huge site with a short window to get this far, some of our old pages remain in our old look and CMS. We continue the migration, but people can still find pages with this look:

old career site

In the new site, we try to play up the use of large photos (500 px by 205 px) first proposed by the freelance designer who did the makeover. Feedback from more than 200 incoming students pointed toward a preference for simplicity and a strong visual sense. Adding components (reusable blocks of content) in the right side can help make our pages more dynamic:

new academics homeBut there’s much left to do. We had to make some hard decisions about what we could complete before relaunch, and what we knew would still need work. We don’t want to throw everything into Tales From Redesigned Land’s mythical Phase 2 black hole; we’d like to keep working hard to make the website better on a daily basis. Stewart Foss of eduStyle calls it incremental redesign, and I’m a big believer.

The phrase I use, blunt as it is: When a website goes live, it doesn’t go dead. Everyone working in the web, imho, should think that way. We’re always tweaking, editing, looking to improve. Every day is a new opportunity to make things better than the day before.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “when a website goes live, it doesn’t go dead.

  1. Great work on the new site — I didn’t realize how tight your timeline was!

    I’m also a huge advocate for incremental redesign. It’s really the only way to get anything accomplished and it drives home the point that just cuz it’s “live” doesn’t mean it’s “done.”

    However, it does sadden me to realize that there are still portions of our site — three years after our latest redesign — that are still in the old look. There are many reasons for this — some of which are my fault — but sometimes in higher ed incremental can become glacial.

  2. Tim – Kudos on the rollout and the new design.

  3. Love the new look and features. Congrats!

  4. Awesome job!

    300 campus editors??? We have like 3. A little jealous right now.

  5. You’ve got it all wrong. Once you’re live, then you can stop completely and wait another seven years.

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  7. Tim,

    The new design looks good! Glad you are getting the new site launched in Ingeniux on such a tight timeline.

    Cheers,
    Nathan

  8. Fran Zablocki

    Tim,

    Looking really good, congrats on such a quick turnaround! Incremental is just the way the web works, everything is fluid and everything can be improved every day, could not agree more.

    Fran

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