Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, Kirkwood launched a re-designed website with a new look and feel. As librarians, we’re always interested in how information is presented and organized, so I did an email interview with Kathy Kaiser, Director of Marketing Services.
Nicole Forsythe: The Kirkwood website has undergone some pretty drastic changes in how it appears. What made you want to redesign the site?
Kathy Kaiser: Input from student focus groups, a major adult student research study, a Kirkwood Web Analytics class project and web analytics played roles in the decision to redesign the site. Site traffic patterns and requests had not been addressed since a redesign in 2006.
NF: How long have you been working on the redesign?
KK: The research began more than one year ago, and the approved design was submitted to Kirkwood IT last spring.
NF: What were your desired outcomes of redesign – and how are you measuring those goals?
KK: The desired outcomes include making the webpage consistent with the student input and site traffic patterns. We will continue to use focus group research and web analytics to gauge success or determine if further changes are needed.
NF: What was the redesign process like? How did it get started, what were the stages of completion? Did you do any sort of information audit to see what was on the site versus what needed to be there?
KK: The redesign process was started with two designers taking the student input and creating visuals. Their visuals were combined to make the draft site. Kirkwood IT reviewed the site to make sure all suggestions were do-able, then proofing by Kirkwood officials cleared the way to make the site operational. Kirkwood Marketing and IT worked closely together on the graphics and operational aspects of the site. Information from a site traffic audit was included before design was started.
NF: What was enjoyable about the process, and what were the major bumps along the way?
KK: Seeing data from the student input and site use analytics become a reality was the most enjoyable for us. The site is now in multiple chunks, with the bold type at the top as quick help, the lighter type at the top is more of an overview of services, and tools for student success near the eagle on the right side. The big photos are timed with student semester needs, and can be clicked on to get more information. The “News & Events” section is completely changeable, so we can provide reminders or late-breaking news to everyone as needed.
NF: How did you identify who your stakeholders were? How did you incorporate student, faculty, staff or other stakeholder feedback?
KK: This redesign is different from any in the past. Previously, most input came from staff and faculty perspective. This redesign relied more on student and site traffic use. Since the launch, we’ve had some neat suggestions from faculty and staff that we are in the process of adding to the site. Due to the size and scope of Kirkwood services, it is impossible to put everyone’s ideas on the site, and we take a close look at every suggestion.
NF: How will you continue to improve the site?
KK: We will document the input using the analytics available to us, and continue to hold student focus groups. The website does not have a finish date. Instead, the evolution will continue.
NF: How has the launch gone so far – anything really stand out as being excellent or anything that needs repair?
KK: The site will continue to be evolutionary.
NF: Anything final you’d like to say about the site to the Kirkwood community? Any final thoughts for anyone interested in doing web design work?
KK: Thanks to the students who provided their input, and to the team who made the new site a reality. Web design is important to help site visitors to get information in a fast and intuitive way. Our web designer always reminds us that form (design) follows function (how the site is navigated).