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New Vanderbilt website launched

Lacy Paschal

Vanderbilt launched a new homepage on the evening of May 17, focusing on making key resources easier to find while continuing to showcase the institution’s dynamic academic, research, patient care and campus life offerings.

Take a closer look at the changes »

“The Web and our usage of it have evolved dramatically since we last redesigned our homepage three years ago. The new Vanderbilt homepage and associated sites showcase the diversity and excellence of our community and are designed to get users quickly to the information they seek within the vast Vanderbilt Web presence,” Beth Fortune, vice chancellor for public affairs, said. “This new site was built with input from students, faculty and staff and shaped with detailed data about how the millions of people who visit Vanderbilt online use our site.”

The new site has a clean, open look and simpler navigation to help focus the user. “Mega dropdowns,” large menus of key links that appear when users hover over the main gray navigation links, get people to the sites they are seeking more quickly.

The terminology of the navigation has been updated. For example, the former Prospective Students link is now Admissions. The former Colleges and Schools link is now Academics. Both changes were made to be more direct and to keep the terminology in line with what prospective students and faculty are familiar at other universities.

A new tools section, which appears on the top of every page, allows users to quickly access the most popular applications and services, including email, YES, C2HR and other applications, Libraries, People Finder and Campus Map.

News, events, photographs and the weekly VUCast newscast are featured prominently on the homepage, and second-level pages linked to from the homepage have been significantly enhanced with more information, photos and resources.

The new site footer features a photo gallery linked to the photo sharing website Flickr, links for key audiences as well as links to the university’s social media presences and links to current popular links at Vanderbilt.

The new site was designed to be easily adapted for those wishing to have a similar look and feel to the main homepage on their own websites, while still maintaining their identity. The Office of University Web Communications is already working with numerous offices around campus to help them implement this new look and organization, and is also rolling out a new content management system to make content updates easy and efficient. Both serve the goal of improving the cohesion of Vanderbilt’s Web presence and the strength of its technical backbone.

In addition to conducting focus groups with students, faculty and staff and analyzing data about how people use the current website, the development team used search engine results, studied competitors’ best practices and listened to feedback from our different audiences in designing and building the new site. The team also took public comments using a blog to help refine the initial design.

The site is designed to be viewed by all modern standards-compliant Web browsers, accessible by those with disabilities, and minimally readable by all Web-reading software. The file sizes are smaller and the site has been optimized to reduce load time, making the site faster and also lessening the load on the Vanderbilt network.

The Vanderbilt homepage receives an average of 1.3 million unique visits each month.The last redesign launched in August 2007. The new site was designed and built by the Office of University Web Communications in the Division of Public Affairs.

For more information about the new homepage, visit the University Web Communications website .

To provide feedback on or ask questions about the homepage, email www@vanderbilt.edu .


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