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Wayne State University

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Jul 18 / Nick DeNardis

Redesign: Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

urop-home-oldurop-home-new

The Undergraduate Research program recently went through a transition in the Office of the Provost and so did its website. Both the scope of the program, name and the visual direction have changed to reflect its new goals.

Like all current sites we launched the site taking advantage of our responsive framework. This means that the website will respond to any device size. This technique has its advantages and disadvantages, I won’t go into all of them, but I’ll highlight a few differences for this particular site.

Tablet is treated as a desktop

For this site, anything above 770 pixels wide is considered a desktop. Because the website is a basic content-driven site with two main columns we did not present a tablet specific view. Although if the site had a deeper menu structure of multiple columns we would have had to adapt to fit within the smaller screen size.

Non-responsive images

Building upon the decision above, the lack of images on this site led us to use a responsive image technique. The problem of optimizing images for each device situation is changing every week. Our lead developer, Rob Vrabel even highlighted the challenges in a recent blog post. Since we are still standardizing the process, we did not want to launch a process that may change in the coming weeks for a few images which are already pretty small.

It doesn’t look all that different than a “traditional” website

This site is straight forward and does its job presenting the information needed and gets out of the user’s way.  It has allowed us to refine our internal process of designing responsive sites. As we roll out more sites patterns will emerge and we will build upon our research. In the end though its all about the user and their experience. Although it may not look like a huge change, a website implemented this way can make a world of difference for our visitors.

View the site at: http://urop.wayne.edu/

2 Comments

  1. Eric Olsen / Jul 19 2013

    Nick, it seems like at most schools, Undergraduate Research pages live underneath the Office of the Provost, as it does at yours. From a navigation perspective, you wouldn’t know that when at your UROP site. In fact, it seems like you keep most of your Wayne State sub-sites intentionally separate via subdomain, rather than try to create one massive navigation menu? Can I ask the reasons for that?

    • Nick DeNardis / Jul 19 2013

      Eric,
      It’s a little bit of history and a little bit of transition. We have traditionally been very subdomain focused because we have been a completely decentralized Web environment the domains were to point to different servers. Now that it isn’t the case we are reducing the domains to just a handful. Not that we publish when they change but as we roll out more sites, but you will notice it for sure after the 1st of the year.

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