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University initiates improved ‘user friendly’ Web site design

February 18, 2010

The appearance of UW-River Falls has begun to change and will continue to do so over the next few weeks—to online visitors, that is.

Over the past year, Residence Life has been working with the Department of Technology Services to redesign their Web site, according to Sandi Scott-Duex, director of Residence Life. The new design was launched Feb. 8, introducing a new navigation menu on the left side of the page in place of the previous single list of links.

There are also more photos, descriptions and language that links to other pages, according to Scott-Duex. She said the primary reason for the change was to make the site easier to use, with a focus on incoming students and their parents.

“We also wanted to have more photos and information related to not just what you have to do to live here, but to showcase some of the highlights of our residence life program, especially the students that live in our halls,” Scott-Duex said.

She added that a few things are still in transition, but the new look of the page is, for the most part, complete.

“Since it was just released, we haven’t received any feedback as of yet, but would welcome any thoughts,” Scott-Duex said.

Another change to the UWRF Web site is the redesign of Desire2Learn. Red and black are now the dominant colors in the design, showing school spirit on the Web. All technical updates and announcements inside D2L will be posted directly above the “My River Falls Courses” area.

According to ITS Lab Manager and Workflow Coordinator, Mary-Alice Muraski, items of interest such as workshops and possible summer or J-term courses will be posted within areas to the right, left or below the courses area.

The help documentation for students and instructors has separate locations outside of D2L on the DoTS Web site.

The new D2L login page was created in compliance with new Web site redesign policies and to match other UW campuses’ login pages.

“We wanted the new login screen to have an identifiable River Falls location in the picture displayed,” Muraski said.

The picture is two students working on laptops in the Involvement Center near the “river” over the fireplace in the UC.

The UWRF home page will launch its new design in May, according to Muraski. The progress of the redesign can be tracked on the UWRF Web page. The redesign Web page offers screen shots of the
new design, a timeline for the project, information on focus groups, frequently asked questions pertaining to the redesign, and the team members and task groups.

According to the DoTS Web site, it is being redesigned to “create clarity, focus, professionalism, consistency and improve administration and management of content within the UWRF Web site.”

The new design will also implement elements from the integrated marketing communications plan. In March 2009, new Web style sheets were implemented throughout the Web site to provide a consistent look, but the navigation and content remained the same.

A content management system (CMS) will replace Dreamweaver for updating pages within the UWRF site. According to the redesign Web site, “All pages that reside on the UWRF Web site will be put into the CMS.

The CMS must be used to update content and create or delete a page.” The home page and top-level pages will be launched in May, according to the site, while department and office pages will be changed to the CMS over the summer.

“Watch for a call for student volunteers to do usability testing once we have the new design closer to roll-out,” Muraski said.