“With the redesign, the School’s goals were to improve accessibility, usability, and visibility, and we believe we have been successful on all fronts,” said Larry Larson, Sorensen Family Dean of Engineering.
Alternative text for images, captions, color contrast, section headings, and keyboard accessibility were all enhanced or improved to ensure that the new site met web content accessibility guidelines.
Usability was improved in several ways. The new site features cleaner page designs and integrates many new features and components, including expanding accordion sections, media poster images, and statistical boxes. Using these new components allowed the team to design the site to present information in a more visually appealing manner and improved the layout and design of many pages. The design team used Google analytics to determine which pages on the old site were not effective or received little traffic and eliminated those. Several other pages were added to improve the ease of navigation through the site.
Improving the visibility of highly trafficked pages was another key goal of the redesign. A new section was created on the home page listing all of the School of Engineering’s degree programs, allowing prospective students an easy way to navigate through to their desired destination and improving the ability of the School to market some of its newer master’s degree programs.
“With the recent approval of a new joint master’s degree in design engineering with RISD and the potential launch of other master’s degree programs in the future, this will help us in attracting the best students to Brown,” said Larson.
In addition, the new site does a better job in promoting the School to prospective students and faculty with the addition of student testimonial videos, improved use of statistics, and better storytelling through new spotlight feature stories to demonstrate the Brown Engineering difference.
Functionally, the site automates and integrates several features that were performed manually on the previous site. The undergraduate and graduate courses are now fed directly from [email protected]. The engineering site is integrated with the main brown.edu site so that news stories can be pulled in from that site to engineering (or vice versa). The site also has several filtered news feeds which provide users with the ability to view stories by research area, by story type (alumni, student or faculty spotlight), or by date. All of the news stories incorporate the social share feature to easily feed into social media platforms.
Faculty, staff, and students from the School of Engineering, Office of University Communications, and Computing and Information Services have all worked together to update content, improve the functionality and design of the site, test the navigation, and make the look and feel of the site more engaging.