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New look Beloit.edu coming in March

January 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm

The college's website is getting a makeover, with an unveiling planned for Monday, March 4. The website (that is, everything from individual department websites to major recruitment-aimed sites) will get, in a sense, a whole new wardrobe—one aimed at making the site more beautiful, easier to navigate, and easier to love, too.

The look, designed by the college's web services team, is quite a departure from the current appearance. It is, in fact, unlike any other higher ed website we've seen. If you're a fan of Flipboard or Pinterest, though, you may quickly appreciate what they’re aiming for.

"We wanted to design a site that, beginning at the main page, made clear that this is a place that is always in motion," said Melissa Dix, web and new media director in the Office of Communications and Marketing. "Yet we also want the larger site to be responsive; to work as well on a phone as on a tablet or desktop."

new website story 

The new design was approved by the college’s web committee—a group of faculty and staff from across campus—last Thursday, Jan. 24.

Some things to know:

1. The content isn't changing. When the college last did a major overhaul of the site (in 2008) a major content pruning and planting period was completed. This time around, that isn't necessary, as users campus-wide control the lion's share of their property. Only the look of the page (the width and orientation of elements) will change. And even then, the goal is to make those changes in ways that feel right and that fall into a uniform pattern site-wide.

2. Search is king. One of the major changes you'll notice to the site is that the navigation will be much, much simpler—and always with you. The main navigation bar will “float” as you scroll down, meaning that visitors will have a search bar and links to Beloit.edu’s top four sites (based on analytics over the last several years) at any time. But what we know is that the search bar will be most popular. Visitors to the site who have a destination in mind will most often find it via search.

3. The new design is, well, new. Amanda Frisbee, web designer and developer at Beloit, took inspiration from some of the web's newest and most innovative websites when creating this design, which was one of a half dozen that were ultimately considered.

4. But the design is also borrowing from current, leading-edge thinking about what's next. As a part of its work, the web team paid close attention to what the tech and design communities have been doing, and calling for, in recent months. You can read some of what they read below.

The Next Web - 10 Web Design Trends You Can Expect to See in 2013
Gizmodo - 13 Design Trends for 2013
Net Magazine - Twenty Top Web Design & Development Trends for 2013

5. Nothing is forever. While the college's web committee was very enamored with the new design and the thinking behind it, the site will begin changing and evolving just as soon as it launches. Users will be asked to share their thoughts, questions and praise with the web team throughout the site. Don't be shy.