WIU web wonks posted a draft of their ongoing site redesign for comment. Here’s the design, which I rate as a win, and the commentary I wrote.
A lot better. Substantially better! The colors are much nicer, and reducing the number of links on the front page is smart. I like making the feature story bigger; I hope it will have persistent links. Getting rid of the funny font is long overdue. Same with the overlapped text, which is a problem in many ways. Search is much easier to see. The wider page is welcome (though it may be too wide: let’s not forget mobiles, and let’s not separate them either). Glad to see the college portrait go away. Adding the contact info is a plus (but see below).
Negatives: the reduced number of news and events. That’s a big problem: a nice clean design is great, but we need to dish information, too. I think there’s too much ALL CAPS, which forces type sizes down and reduces legibility. Many links are hard to differentiate: what’s the difference between giving and support? admissions and apply now? “Current students” link is too small.
- Why two Quad Cities links?
- Is “Spotlight” for events only?
- Why “Macomb campus?” The impression is that we are two universities. Not good.
- Why is Distance Learning one of the biggest links on the page?
- Instead of “Academic majors”, why not just “Academics”—we have lots of non-major programs (certificates, minors, non-credit, graduate, etc).
- Can we just say “Jobs” instead of “Employment opportunities?”
- Why the vertical imbalance in “parents and families” and “alumni and friends”?
- Is it necessary to repeat “Western Illinois…” in the contact information? Can that text go with the copyright?
- I trust the omission of people of color is just a mockup oversight?
Finally, the home page is just one piece of the pie. Current WIU web pages have excessive navigation on most pages, making design of pages very difficult. Given that I can’t see what child pages look like, I would give this design an “Incomplete” if I had the option. I hope that a horizontal navigation scheme will be used on child pages.