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Website redesign creates new, enhanced experience

September 26, 2014

University Communications and the Department of Technical Services (DoTS) joined together to design and create a new UW-River Falls website that will make it easier to navigate and tell the university’s story.

“Our goal was to create a meaningful and intuitive web experience that accurately represented all UWRF has to offer,” said University Marketing Specialist Renee Johnson.

The old website was more focused on internal people, current students and faculty than on an external audience. Although it helps inviting prospective students to the school, enrollment is not the main reason for the website’s change.

With feedback from the Student Senate last year, the Web Working Group was able to launch the new design on July 19, 2014.

“As you look at any kind of university recruitment in marketing, the web is the primary vehicle for communicating with prospective students, current students, alumni, friends; it’s just the main communication vehicle,” said UWRF Associate Vice Chancellor Kris Anderson.

With the use of in-house talents in information technology (IT), graphic design and communications, the main cost was human time and labor. Because UWRF used talents of its own, they didn’t have to hire outside companies, reducing the cost to students and the campus.

“In our approach to content strategy, design and development for the site redesign, we focused on building a site architecture that would allow users to find the information they needed in a way that was engaging and visually representative of the UWRF campus experience,” Johnson said.

The aim for the redesign is to improve the university’s brand, tell UWRF’s story, have engaging visuals and be more user friendly for less experienced users, according to the university’s webpage.

“I think the redesign of the website is fine, but I think sometimes it’s harder to navigate than it used to be if you’re a current student,” said UWRF student Kellie Cunningham. “That could be because we’re humans of having things the same and we don’t like change.”

Popular links have become more centralized including D2L, email, eSIS and the events calendar. The new design is also responsive to mobile devices.

“Overall, it’s fine, I’m getting used to it,” said UWRF student Ari Pajtash. “I do like the colors and new-age stuff a little bit. It took me a while to find where all the links were at first because they switched that up a lot. Now that I’m getting used to it, it’s a lot better.”

The next phase for the web site has two projects: training for web authors who contribute to the website which will help content management and design more consistent look across the pages, and website enhancements for a better interactive campus map with a more robust news site.

Students can leave feedback about the new design at: http://bit.ly/1pbKuLz.