Why Redesign?

The redesign of the main USD website will be informed by institutional and technical priorities and bring improvements to our core site's visual design, structure, navigation, and content.

Goals are in bold. All other text is for context and to provide examples/ideas.

  • Prioritize prospective students:
    • Continue to create a site that is user-friendly and an informational tool for USD's primary web audience—prospective students—while serving the needs of current students and other members of the community, including alumni and donors.
    • Return the Campus Life section to its primary focus as a visual tool so that it showcases and promotes the 'USD experience.' It should show USD life in action and provide a balance of academic, social, and recreational aspects to time at USD.
    • Look at personalization for USD home page to better help with targeting content for audiences without affecting the main priority of the website.
    • Continue to align the website with the admissions cycle and summarize requirements to help prospective students and parents year-round.
  • Elevate content and eliminate clicks by removing intermediary pages; instead provide the resources that the student needs up front, including:
    • Degrees offered (comprehensive of in-person/online)
    • Study abroad opportunities
    • Job prospects and placement
    • Scholarship and internship information
  • Create hubs that curate useful resources and empower those users for success:
    • Create a more prominent Graduate Admissions gateway on the university's website with uniform content and resources, even though internally and operationally the various graduate admissions offices operate independently.
    • Create a faculty hub that brings not only links, but content for faculty to the main-site level.
    • Create a student hub that brings not only links, but content for students to the main-site level.
    • Create an enrollment management area that brings together one stop services, student accounts, registrar, and financial aid information to make the operational and financial aspect of paying for college as seamless as possible.
    • Blend admissions and financial aid information so that the excitement of USD opportunities and the way to attain them are more connected.
  • Highlight accomplishments and opportunities with visibility and storytelling:
    • Showcase student, faculty, and alumni in a way that ties back to USD's mission and core values and inspires new students and their parents with their stories.
    • Help solidify USD’s stance as a contemporary Catholic institution by prioritizing Faith & Service on the website.
    • Spotlight faculty research, scholarship, and specialties through various types of content and systems.
    • Promote student scholarships by better managing the central scholarships site and feed this same information to the academic websites.
  • Streamline content to improve usability and searchability:
    • Be more straightforward with functional and informational details on the website; be mindful of when to 'sell' our product versus when a heavy marketing push keeps users from finding simple information they need.
    • Better educate content providers about writing for the web so that information can be targeted to the correct audience, refreshed, recycled, and archived, thus improving search results.
    • Implement a cleaning-out process for files to archive materials that don't need to be on the web server (i.e. documents and images).

User Experience

  • Create a pathway:
    • Solve the 'navigation problem' and create a way for users to explore the website that is more intuitive and tells a story while guiding them toward their destination.
    • Thoughtfully consider all pages in the path and make it more straightforward, eliminating clicks where possible; USD's competitors feature simpler websites which may be a recipe for increasing traffic flow and improving the overall user experience.
    • Through website structure and navigation, undo the 'file cabinet' foundation of the website; un-nest and un-bury content.
  • User-centric website:
    • Continue to shift toward user-centric, rather than organization-driven, information architecture and navigation.
    • Group similar content when it belongs together, even though politically or administratively it may be challenging to do so.
    • Be mindful and consistent about naming conventions site-wide so that user exploration is met with answers and not confusion (e.g. consistent naming of Academics, Centers, Institutes, etc. site-wide)

Visual

  • Create a modern visual design and experience:
    • Create a cohesive and appealing new visual design incorporating USD’s new branding standards.
    • Via Camino, USD's design system, provide variations within those options to better meet user needs, purpose, and circumstances.
    • Implement a standard look and feel for all functional tools within the website so that there is less of a silo'd feel to the USD website presence; examples include the MyPostings and Manage systems.
  • Infuse interactivity and add touches of dynamic content and functionality:
    • Add video-based hero images that create a visual for the visitor in an impactful way, rather than relying on static imagery and content to do the heavy lifting.
    • Take care to not limit the 'wow' factor only to landing pages, but instead carry through that visual appeal and mindfulness to the entire USD website journey.
    • Make every page useful, relevant, and content-rich.

Functional

  • Collective improved functionality across all systems, websites, and tools:
    • Introduce new coding/programming technologies resulting in a faster and more streamlined user experience.
    • Create front-end, back-end, and versioning standards so that everyone codes using the same approach and there is no single point of failure within the web infrastructure.
    • Practice basic SEO practices such as thoughtful page titles and adding meta keywords and descriptions site-wide.
    • Improve USD's page speed and performance by adopting technologies such as lazy loading images, better managing image sizes across all viewports, and file minification.
  • Comply with current technology standards and integrate industry-standard tools into the USD web environment:
    • CSS Grid for layout and visual design
    • GitHub for development version control
    • React for front-end development
    • Storybook for visual representation of components
    • Upgraded Cascade CMS front-end for improved user experience
  • Prioritize accessibility:
    • Consider accessibility in all aspects of the web design and development process, from foundational conversations to final development and release phases.
    • Continue to educate maintainers, both through training efforts as well as via workflow review, of their role in making USD's web environment ADA-compliant.
  • Simplify and improve the experience in Cascade CMS:
    • Simplify maintenance using Cascade CMS by rethinking the user experience in light of new USD website technologies and tools in use.
    • Create a flexible system while offering consultation time and services so that maintainers can better explore options.
    • Thoughtfully plan out the integration between Camino and the CMS so that users can use the former as a starting point for their vision and make it a reality via the latter.
    • Provide a hub–a starting point–that is a gateway to the CMS as well as peripheral systems, that way the silo'd nature of the USD web presence does not hinder maintainers.
    • Work with the vendor to streamline the number of clicks and dialogue boxes that currently exist with various processes within the system.