Monday, May 21, 2007

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has a very nice home page. At least, I think so.

What makes it successful to me?
  1. Very clean, up-to-the-moment design, with good use of white space to chunk the page.
  2. Prominent navigation area. Main navigation components are not spread around the page.
  3. Relatively unobtrusive use of Flash that provides a level of interactivity.
  4. Nice, relatively engaging people photos in prominent location. Not too big, but eye-catching. Unfortunately, they seem a bit generic to me. I can see pohotos of college students anywhere. Show me something unique about your school.
  5. Clearly deliniated audience-oriented navigation. It's part of the main navigation but effectively set apart by the orange background. Smart and effective.
  6. Effective use of news and events. I like the RSS feeds and even (gasp!) the icons they use on the home page.
  7. The design and layout are all CSS and web standards-based. Very clean.
  8. Nice use of access keys. A very accessible page.
  9. All of the top level pages stick to the home page template. Maybe a bit too slavishly for my taste, but much better than the usual alternative of total design chaos.
What don't I like? Not too much.
  1. The Top 40 University and Apply Now! sections don't stand out sufficiently. I'd suggest getting rid of Apply Now! and increase the size and prominence of the Top 40 University section. Use colors or a callout to make this section stand out more.
  2. I like the idea of a "Future" section on the home page. We've had that discussion here, and I think showing the direction that the university is headed in the future is a great idea. Oh, wait, that isn't what this is. This is only a bunch of links to the UT system. Pffft. We're wasting space on the home page for this?
You could do a lot worse than this as a home page.

This redesign was implemented in February 2007 and had five goals (thanks for a. - having goals, and b. - sharing them with us!):

  1. To bring the site into conformity with the recommendations of the W3C, making the site more accessible
  2. To better leverage dynamic content through the use of RSS feeds and an events calendar
  3. To improve navigation based upon data collected by tracking actual use of the site
  4. To better represent, visually, the vitality of life on the UT Knoxville campus
  5. To build a clear and compelling brand identity for the University of Tennessee
Interesting mix of user-oriented and marketing-related goals. Good job folks!


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