We led our parent organization, the Division of University Relations, in a partnership with Technology Services’ Web Services group in 2008 to start planning a redesign for the VCU home page and its sub-levels (screen 1). We launched an online survey to gather comments and suggestions about the original VCU home page and the results became the driving force behind the redesign decisions.
The team chose school colors and created a Features area to highlight stories, photos, illustrations, audio, videos and animation (screen 2). Grouped with the Features navigation, Athletics and Ram Life (screen 3), Research and Programs, VCU Medical Center and the City of Richmond provide informational links and tell animated stories that brand the character of the university.
The team designed two types of navigation gateways to group content and better consolidate information. The audience gateway (screen 4) defines resources for students, faculty and staff, parents and families, alumni and community. The topic gateway (screen 5) provides categories covering general information about the university, application information, academics, campus life, offices and ways to support VCU.
The topic gateway also introduces the use of “mega drop-down navigation menus” (screen 6). These two-dimensional panels eliminate page scrolling and reduce the number of clicks audiences take to reach their destination points, allowing for more direct links in a smaller amount of space. A full view of the menus is also listed in the form of a mini site map below the news headlines (screen 7). The team used heat maps from the current home page to determine this listing of most-visited links.
- Flash programming and animation
- Database programming
- News feeds from VCU News Center
- Event feeds from university calendar
- Video template
- Slide show photo galleries
- Writing and editing
- Visual design and concept
- HTML/CSS development