Searching for Direction: Using a Search-Based Homepage to Direct Users (AIM1)

In the spring of 2015 Xavier University moved to a search-based homepage, with the goal of more efficiently getting users to their desired content. We’ll review the basics of the implementation, how the data is managed, and, most importantly, what we have learned from the actual usage. Do the users even use the search? Does it consistently deliver the results they are looking for? Is this the future?

Your Website Is a Window, Not a Billboard (UAD1)

When Beloit College retooled its recruitment materials and positioning, the approach hinged on the college’s ability to showcase the accelerated pulse of what seemed, from the outside, to be a small and sleepy campus. Under the theme “Liberal Arts Amplified”, the communications and web team set out to illustrate this energy on the website and elsewhere, and found along the way that in this case, less was more (and more was more). Borrowing from new approaches (in HTML5) and best practices, we built a new site that serves to highlight campus life, offerings, and students, and to do so in a way that is more authentic, more powerful, and less time consuming than preparing video package after video package. Along the way, we found that we could easily and cheaply replicate this approach across campus, through retargeting, and even on livestreaming holding slides -- and do all that with a ¼ time videographer and a half dozen student workers. This session will provide an overview of how we implemented video across our site (the plan, process, and implementation) and what we’ve seen and heard as a result. We’ve discovered that while a picture might be worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.

Doing Accessibility Right the First Time -- or Maybe the Second (UAD3)

Sometimes it takes a horrible event (like a disastrous website launch) to get all the resources in place to finally do things right. Hear how Grinnell College royally messed up, but then took the opportunity to rebuild an accessible site from the ground up. Whether you have a "pretty accessible" site or are starting from scratch, learn how to get internal buy-in (without manufacturing a disaster), secure internal and external resources, and manage the project from start to finish.

Information Architecture: The Steps to a Smooth Redesign (DPA5)

The foundation of a successful website from a user's perspective is rarely the technology nor the design. The information architecture (IA) is the base upon which a website is built, and yet IA is often overlooked during a web redesign project. Join Georgia Regents University and VisionPoint Marketing for an in-depth explanation of IA and a review of the steps needed to properly structure your website. Attendees will learn about the sitemap and page schematics that facilitate a smooth implementation of a redesigned website.

Metropolis and Gotham, A Tale of Two Cities: Two Different Approaches to Enterprise Site Development (MPD6)

In the last five years, UF Health's web services team has launched two enterprise-wide web projects, supporting six colleges, six hospitals, and twenty thousand staff and students. Our Metropolis was an external web presence supporting more than six hundred websites, built in the light of day as a positive affirmation of our future as an organization. Our Gotham was a new intranet, built on social networking and web best practices, constructed internally and away from the light but nonetheless as important. This talk will focus on the strategies used in building both, a web team that can support both, and the lessons learned in the process -- building and guiding consensus, overcoming the rogues gallery of barriers that pop up, and managing expectations.

Accessibility 101 (UAD9)

In the higher education web design environment, accessibility is paramount. The web team at Tarrant County College endeavored to greatly improve their accessibility by conducting extensive research, and by meeting with disabled users to experience firsthand how they access web content. In this session, Stephen will discuss their testing and research processes, the results, and best practices garnered from this initiative. Learn about a diverse collection of techniques and quick fixes that you can implement on your website immediately. Find out how to improve accessibility in your existing site, how to guide decisions in a redesign, and most importantly, how to guarantee equality of access for all students on your campus.

Is a Taco a Sandwich? (And Other Hard Questions) (AIM12)

For the past year and half, this simple innocent question has challenged friendships, hijacked whiteboards, and sparked heated happy-hour debates within our office. We were even able to tickle the fancy of Chris Hardwick during last year’s HighEdWeb keynote address. So why has this question become such an obsession to us? Because it’s not just about tacos. It’s about organization. Balance. As professionals in higher education, we work in systemic chaos every day -- from political posturing and institutional wrangling, to technology workarounds and daily droning maintenance. At Illinois State University, a recent redesign of our central news hub proved that this chaos could be tempered, dare we say controlled. It meant tackling the tricky balance of institutional marketing with distributed content creation. I will cover some of the tactics used to organize people, departments, and egos (both large and small) and how it lead to not only political victories, but new competitive ways to market the university.

Web Strategery: An Effective Way to Say No to "Click Here" (UAD12)

Websites can quickly get out of control with input, advice, suggestions, and directives coming from every direction. During our recent redesign, we decided to align our site with the university's mission and strategic plan. Keeping these two items at the forefront of the redesign process allowed us to make key decisions that would have been difficult otherwise. We started with a single strategy and we quickly saw the shortcomings of trying to be too generic. We ended with an overall web strategy that has a four-pronged approach to emerging technology, architecture, content, and design. Each strategy (including the overall) has three or four goals associated with it, and represents many of the common issues faced as we build and maintain websites. For our web group, it allows us to continually keep our focus on what is important, and if needed, change a goal based on the ever-changing web world. For our campus community, the strategies are presented in a simple way and have been documented (which makes them "official"), so that they can easily be shared and taught.