Why Redesign?

So the fact that we are redesigning the University homepage does beg one obvious question: why? What’s wrong with the current homepage design?

Well, nothing major. The current homepage design represents, I think, a big improvement on what came before (more on that in later posts). But the next design will represent a big improvement over what we have now. There are a few key ways in which the homepage can and should be improved by a redesign:

  • The current design is nearly four years old. It is a “land-locked” 800 x 600 pixel table-based layout, created at a time when this was the most common screen resolution setting for users coming to our site. Given the expanding sizes of most people’s monitors these days, plus the desire to provide a clean looking page whether someone is viewing it on their Apple cinema display or their tiny Blackberry screen, this fixed-width approach is limiting and outdated.
  • The space available for providing news, updates, what’s happening now, is also a bit limited. Prospective students should get a quick sense of what kind of place this is and what goes on here when they visit the homepage, and current students, faculty, alumni, and staff should get a daily snapshot of University life if they return to the homepage often.
  • The second-level pages (or “Sorting Pages”) of the current homepage were meant to provide access to all the various offices and resources available across the entire University. As such, these pages are currently composed of pretty static lists of links. We’re missing an opportunity here to provide visitors with updated, dynamic content on these pages and we plan to address that in this redesign.

Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels to wherever your holiday plans take you!


The Drawing Board

The homepage redesign project began as most design projects began: with a blank canvas. Or a blank screen in this case. We’ve literally gone back to the drawing board, we’ve wiped the slate clean, we’re thinking outside the box, and we’re leaving no cliche unturned in our efforts to create a compelling, fresh, usable design.

So what have we come up with so far? Here it is, in all its glory: the future University of Rochester homepage.

early handdrawn image of homepage design idea


Um, not quite. I should perhaps mention at this point that I am not a graphic designer. Happily, I do work with a very talented group of graphic designers, chief among them Michael Osadciw, Graphics Coordinator in Publications Services. So rest assured the graphic component of the homepage redesign is in much more capable hands than mine. That’s Rush Rhees Library there in the background. Could you tell?

As pathetic as it is, my attempt at drawing does, I think, shed some light on one important aspect of the design process: it’s messy. As in any creative endeavor, ideas are tossed around, discarded, or embraced. Mistakes are made, epiphanies are experienced. We all do our best, but ya gotta start somewhere.

Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.