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K-State Today

June 1, 2017



New university home page, supporting sites available for preview

By Communications and Marketing

A preview of the new university home page set to launch this month is now available. The updated home page, as well as the underlying site structure, is the result of extensive industry and audience-based research, usability studies and collaboration with a variety of university stakeholders, including the president's cabinet; representatives from the leadership teams and/or offices most closely aligned with the primary navigation menu items (Admission, Academics, Student Life, Research and Extension); Faculty Senate Committee on Technology; University Support Staff Senate leadership team; and Student Government Association representatives.

Research and development
Comparative usability studies were conducted in 2016 with prospective high school students; undergraduate, graduate and international students; and faculty and staff. Participants were asked to perform a set of tasks originating from three different university home pages, including the current K-State home page. Audio and mouse movement recordings showcased the ease, or difficulty, with which these site users experienced in locating information and performing tasks.

Strategy and improvements
The results of the usability studies, as well as industry-based research and a review of current website analytics data, informed the planning and development process for the revised home page. A few of those strategies and resulting improvements include:

  • Primary navigation and menu usability: Usability studies indicated audiences expect all content to be available through the primary navigation, and that menu items should be based on topics important to audiences. Several enhancements were made to help accomplish:
    • Menu usability: The current home page primary navigation menu is a mega menu that opens all menu options with one click. Because this didn't test particularly well among audiences, individual menus now open for individual navigation items upon rollover. Additionally, a top-level page now exists for each primary navigation item, allowing an immediate follow-through to expected content upon click.
    • About: This menu has become a true showcase of the K-State brand — a marketing-focused site with content that anyone across the institution can link to and utilize to showcase the university.
    • Admission: The addition of this menu aligns with audience prioritization and the need to include this item within the navigation for usability. The site represents the breadth of admission opportunities at the institution for all types of prospective students.
    • Academics: Similar to Admission, it became clear the university needed a centralized place where prospects can view all available academic options, regardless of degree type, campus location, etc. The centralized majors/programs search within the Academics site meets this need.
    • Student Life: The current Student Life menu has been focused on the undergraduate student audience, but usability research indicated that students of all types were seeking content within this area. Therefore, the Student Life section of the website has been expanded to address all types of students' needs including undergraduate, graduate, international and online.
  • Reimagining the feature space: The current home page features an image carousel with 3-5 rotating images at any given time. Industry research suggests this strategy is no longer effective for our institutional home page, as site visitors often ignore the space when options are presented and content rotates. The new university home page features one "hero image" that will be strategically curated and updated.
  • Technical and design improvements: The new university home page features a mobile-responsive design to ensure its presentation across multiple device types. Additionally, the cake layer design offers the opportunity to highlight several university priorities in a visual way, a practice effective for websites with limited site-constrained content.

Opportunity for feedback
Please take time to familiarize yourself with the updated home page and supporting site structure. A transition guide is available to help explain some of the updates in more detail. If you have questions, concerns or feedback, please email vpcm@k-state.edu.