Increased context on the site index

Something we have overlooked for a while is the site index on wayne.edu. We have been gathering sites and adding them to the list, but frankly it is something we don’t use on a daily basis. The list is used as a “suggested search” in the search box on the homepage. When we (internally) are looking for a website we just start typing in name and it quickly pulls it up and you have the ability to jump right to the site.

But others use the index

As we looked at our stats we realized just how many people use the site index. It is linked to from our global header and is the ninth visited page on our site.

Looking at the page and trying to use it a few times we realized it had some serious flaws. We had too many links on the page and there wasn’t enough context around them.

School of Medicine

The second largest set of sites were from the School of Medicine. The school is so large is basically has an entire copy of the main campus departments. This is what caused most of the confusion, two Admissions Office’s, Computing,  and Research departments to name a few.

Our solution

We decided to keep the full list but have the ability to filter to only the main campus or med campus sites. We also added “, School of Medicine” to the end of all the medicine sites. I have included an initial sketch of our idea on the right.

The site list does need some clean up and we are doing that slowly, it takes some time to go through the hundreds of links to determine which are no longer relevant.

One less feature going forward

The “Suggest a site” feature has hit the cutting room floor. It wasn’t hard for us to run a report and realize almost all the recent suggestions were spam. Almost all authoritative sites that have been added in the past year have been by us, only three have been from the campus community. It wasn’t worth the time to mark the spam to justify the feature.

Hopefully our users will find this new context and features useful. We are watching the stats and will be modifying the page even more based on how our visitors are using the page.  We hope you find this new layout just a little bit more useful if you do use it.

View the new site index at: http://wayne.edu/siteindex.php

Task of indexing all Wayne State Web sites

There are a lot of web sites at the university, we are not sure the total number but we know its growing every day. In order to keep the order we have a two fold site index linked from wayne.edu. You can find it on the top right of the page called “A-Z Site Index”.

picture-1

The Site Index is community maintained so if there is a site that needs to be added anyone can suggest the site. We get an alert and its usually added within 24 hours. They are organized alphabetically and a quick jump to letter menu is located at the top. We also relate “wayne speak” with a regular users terminology. So we have a “University Bulletin” which explains all our programs and courses but at other universities its called “Course Catalog”. We use the same record and have the site under both names so no matter the user they can get to the correct content.

Second Purpose

picture-2

The number one thing used on wayne.edu is the search. Often users are looking for individual sites and what better resource to get them there than the site index. As users are typing we search through the site index and present them with the sites that match their search. From there they can select one of them with their mouse or keyboard and go directly to the site without having to go through the interim search results page.

Do you maintain a Wayne State site that is not on the list? Suggest it and we will add it.