After nearly three years of planning, University administrators launched a newly redesigned utexas.edu Thursday.
Mike Horn, director of digital strategy for University Communications, said the redesign focuses on information about admission and financial aid to attract prospective students. Although current students are the primary users of the UT website, they access most of their content through secure portals such as UTDirect, Canvas and Blackboard, Horn said.
“The next biggest audience group [of the website] was prospectives,” Horn said. “Their needs are not being met in the way that we want, and we really focused this redesign on prospective students.”
The website redesign also serves as part of a broader initiative to help current students, Horn said. MyUT, a personalized student portal intended to help increase graduation rates, is tentatively scheduled to launch in the fall.
“It’s going to include some features like integrated calendars, a new mobile-friendly design [and] single sign-on connections to tools like Canvas and other services so you don’t have to login over and over again,” Horn said. “It’s going to become more customizable and provide information relevant to the time of year and your major and interest.”
Administrators first approached University Communications and Information Technology Services to create a new website in summer 2012, Horn said.
Public relations senior Hayley Fick, digital strategy intern for University Communications, said the website redesign tried to avoid mistakes other college websites often make.
“[We would see that a website] looked good, but it wasn’t necessarily responsive or as functional,” Fick said. “We are trying to strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality.”
The new website design uses a template that can be applied to college and departmental websites through content management platform Drupal, Horn said.
Finance sophomore Julie Ding said she experienced problems finding information about specific programs, such as study abroad, using the new website.
“When you’re trying to look up specific information for a program or something, it’s very hard to locate that using the University website,” Ding said.
Lauren Greiner, international relations and global studies sophomore, said she believes the new website is cleaner and easier to use.
“It’s a longer website, instead of just having a shorter scroll distance and all this tiny little text everywhere,” Greiner said. “It just looks cleaner.”