As part of our newly updated brand, we've launched a new version of our home page. In part, this is so that the home page can incorporate the appropriate elements of our brand - our new logo, typography, colour palette and so on. But as well as that update, we also had three other goals:-
- To provide more space and flexibility to talk about what's happening at Warwick.
- To ensure that our home page works well on mobile phones and other small-screen devices, and in situations where bandwidth is limited and/or expensive.
- To make it quick and easy to find commonly requested information on our home page, and to move from our home page further into our site.
1. Space and flexibility
We wanted to think about how our home page helps us communicate both what's currently happening at the university, and also what we're about as an institution. There's always a lot happening at Warwick, and sometimes we want to talk about lots of different things all at once on the home page, but sometimes there is a single event or piece of news which is so significant that we want to highlight it more strongly than anything else. We want our home page to be able to handle both these extremes as well as all the cases inbetween.
With this in mind, we've redesigned our home page so that we can be more flexible about what we display, and how much space each item on the home page can take up. So for big stories we can take the whole of the browser window up, or we can sub-divide the page into two equal panes, or sub-divide it again to make smaller areas as required. At different times, we can have more stories or fewer, and we can provide distinct URLs pointing to different parts of our home page so that members of the university can point their audience to the part of the home page that's most relevant to them.
2. Small screens and bandwidth
We also need to remember that people consume our home page in many different ways; some on a desktop browser with plenty of space and unlimited bandwidth, but others on small screen devices with metered and limited bandwidth. We want to make sure that we are providing a home page which works well in both cases, and so we have designed different renditions for mobile devices which both fit the smaller screen better, and use fewer images and therefore less bandwidth.
3. Links, searching and frequently-requested content
Finally, we're also aware that not everyone comes to our home page to learn about what's going at the university right now; there are just as many people who are looking for quick and easy access to routine information - contacts, maps, links to our departments and services, and so on. We've tried to make sure that this information is just as visible and accessible as our headline news, by putting a "More links" box right at the top of the home page, containing everything which our logs tell us is frequently requested or searched for on our home page.
It's also clear to us from talking to people who visit our home page and from looking at our usage logs, that increasingly, visitors to our site don't navigate their way through our sub-sites and pages at all; instead they type a word or phrase into our search box and use that to get directly to the content they're interested in. Accordingly, we've made our search box more prominent, revised and increased the list of suggestions which we display as soon as a couple of characters are typed into the search box, and improved the search results list to show more current and focussed content.