Usability, Accessibility and Design
Monday, Oct. 17 8:30 - 9:15 a.m.
Website redesigns are more than content and code. They are (or should be) a thoughtful and strategic process to improve a college’s largest publication. In this presentation I’ll talk about lessons learned during the recent redesign of Western Oregon University’s website. Late in the process we discovered a variety of issues that would have been prevented through decisions and discussions early on. Learn from our mistakes and find out how you can streamline your redesign process, help communication among involved parties, improve campus buy-in, and avoid settling for a website migration.
Monday, Oct. 17 9:30 - 10:15 a.m.
After years of delegating content to campus departments, an IA overhaul caused the Marketing and Communication department at Xavier University to rethink who maintains the content for key sites. The end result meant taking back control of many websites that for years had been maintained by academic departments and support offices. After a brief review of the overall project we will look at the sites we decided were too important to delegate, how we brought them back in, and the obstacles we have faced.
Monday, Oct. 17 10:45 - 11:30 a.m.
Web accessibility. OK, now take a breath. Successful web accessibility initiatives need to distribute work around to different part of project teams. One of the challenges that accessibility faces is the perception that it always adds tons of time. And worse yet, that time is spent chasing bugs instead of learning good accessible design techniques. Wouldn't it be great if you could find a way to keep accessibility from slowing you down on project after project? This session will introduce you to the ways that accessibility fits into different project roles on your design team. Integrate accessibility into roles and your team starts to develop and maintain a body of knowledge that creates sustainability and scalability to other projects. Join me to learn how to take the critical step of sharing the right work across the right project team members.
Monday, Oct. 17 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
From Netflix to Spotify to Amazon, prospective students are accustomed to personalized websites that offer recommendations to help them discover new content or products. When they arrive at most college and university websites the experience is very different. It can feel static and generic by comparison. The culprit? In order to tame the massive amount of content and competing priorities of college websites, a one-size-fits-all home and landing page approach has proliferated. When North Central College decided to redesign its website they wanted to break that one-size-fits-all mold and engage tech-savvy prospects with an experience that felt different from other school sites. With agency partner Spark451, North Central took cues from non-higher ed sites to develop a concept called “stacks.” Stacks are topically bundled content cards. For example, a photo of a faculty member, a video, a student quote, career facts, all related to a particular major. Stacks allow for things like curated categories, and can be embedded into landing pages, news articles and other types of content. They help North Central repurpose and surface content in strategic ways that support admissions efforts. Attendees will learn how North Central took a radical approach to organizing its content to create a user experience that’s different for higher-ed but feels familiar (in a good way) to prospective students.
Monday, Oct. 17 3:00 - 3:45 p.m.
Virtual reality is coming, and it's coming fast. In December 2015, the New York Times distributed over 1 million Google Cardboard viewers to its print subscribers. YouTube and Facebook both support 360 degree videos, and WebVR is bringing virtual reality content out of the realm of high-end gaming and specialized devices. Some experts predict VR will be bigger than the film industry within 10 years. What does this mean for higher education? With a new and cheaper gadgets released seemingly every day, the technology is becoming more and more accessible. Come hear how Colorado College is leveraging this new medium, what we’ve learned, and how you can get started--even with limited time and budget.
Monday, Oct. 17 4:15 - 5:00 p.m.
Democratize usability at your campus! Just as content-creation has become the unalienable right of contributors across your campus, so too usability and it's message of user-centered design can become the pursuit of your whole college. We'll take a look at how to bring project teams and staff from across the school together in the patriotic mission of making people-centered websites. This session will cover which usability tasks to implement at every step of your project, how to spread the recruitment workload (so it doesn't all come out of your time budget), and how to spread a culture of student-centered design on your campus. We'll also share our process for recording, captioning, distributing usability results.
Tuesday, Oct. 18 8:30 - 9:15 a.m.
Personalization gets a bad rap for being a creepy practice. But given the complexity and depth of higher ed websites, delivering relevant content and calls-to-action to our wide range of unique users quickly and efficiently is a must. By serving users dynamic content that speaks directly to their unique needs and communicates in a way that appeals to them, we can cultivate deeper understanding, drive more meaningful actions, and foster stronger relationships. We can accomplish this by inviting user research and content strategy to the party. In this presentation, we’ll use case studies to explain the process behind creating an effective, sustainable, and unobtrusive digital personalization experience that provides relevance for the user and ROI for you. This includes developing personas, identifying user needs and tasks, applying these insights to your website’s information architecture and user flows, developing and delivering relevant dynamic content, and analyzing user behavior to gauge success and refine your approach. The result? A personalized experience that is less like a creepy robot, and more like a friendly human who knows what you need and when you need it.
Whose Website is it Anyway? (UAD8)
Tuesday, Oct. 18 9:30 - 10:15 a.m.
Learn how two University at Buffalo (UB) communications professionals reached across departmental lines in a decentralized graduate admissions environment to collaborate on an integrated and engaging website redesign. The focus of this presentation will be to discuss how we developed a messaging strategy tailored to students rather than internal faculty and staff, and utilized existing resources to improve operations and the overall web user experience at UB. We will also discuss the political and organizational barriers that communications professionals often face while collaborating on university-wide projects and how to overcome them. This session would benefit those who are part of an admissions, marketing, recruitment or student services team who are looking to improve internal and external communication through their website. Learning Outcomes/Objectives: • Identify your primary and secondary website audiences • Auditing existing content based on audience needs • Identifying and reducing internal lingo and industry jargon • Improve user experience through collaboration
Tuesday, Oct. 18 10:45 - 11:30 a.m.
Accessibility standards, ADA-Compliance, WCAG… all this accessibility talk can get confusing, right? In this session, learn about a new, simplified approach to accessibility: S.I.F.T. Most institutions already “sift” through their content for various reasons, but I will present an easy way to make sure you are “sifting” properly by abiding to the following steps: Structure, Images, Forms, Tables. You will learn how to S.I.F.T. through your content to ensure you have the most thoughtful – and accessible – content possible. I will discuss accessibility benefits and best practices, and I will share a collection of tools to aid in this process.
Tuesday, Oct. 18 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Using analytics and qualitative data, Farmingdale State College implemented a simple, yet powerful Bootstrap design. The site’s information architecture now aligns with their audience’s expectations, so visitors are able to locate information without confusion. Since going live in June 2015, admissions questions have been reduced by 22% and inquiries for general information have decreased 14%. Additionally, their new modular design makes life much easier for content contributors, who are now actually looking forward to attending training sessions. In this session, Sylvia will discuss their redesign process, including their analysis of analytics, the information architecture overhaul, and the preparation and launch of the new layout.
We Can All "Do" User Experience (UAD11)
Tuesday, Oct. 18 3:00 - 3:45 p.m.
In higher education, and especially at smaller colleges and universities, some of our most critical web functions -- prospective student inquiry gathering, online gift forms, etc. -- are farmed out to third parties. Why? Because they’ve already got the tool we need, and we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. However, the solutions we buy are often focused exclusively on making US happy, not our users. They provide good data output and reporting… but what about the user experience of inputting data in the first place? We need to recognize that these functions are far too important to leave to non-designed interfaces onto which we slap our logo and primary school color. When we redesigned our online giving form at Colgate, we took the time to think about design -- not just for aesthetic, but for user experience. With minimal cost and a lot of goodwill gained, we executed research and testing throughout the project, and reached the end result of a visually stunning, easy-to-use form that helped drive a measurable increase in the online giving rate. In this presentation I will share the methods we used -- borrowed heavily from the work of Steve Krug -- to reach our successful outcome, and how they can be used by teams of any size to vastly improve project outcomes.
Tuesday, Oct. 18 4:15 - 5:00 p.m.
A CMS works well for large sites where content needs to be added and updated frequently by many collaborators. Quite often however, content management systems get shoehorned into being the only solution for the web, wasting development time and unnecessary database queries. What about smaller sites, such as course pages & blogs, university marketing campaigns, or portfolios? Static site generators are the answer! Static site generators compile websites -- from source code on your development machine -- to produce plain ol’ HTML pages that can be hosted practically anywhere. I’ll show you how to use them, the popular ones out there, and why they may be more appropriate for that next project.