Western Website Redesign: Early Design and Concepts (November 2010 to March 2011)

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History and Branding Guide

We began a ten-month effort to redesign the Western website in November of this year. A Working Committee was selected and began meeting. We had two givens when we began the project: The goal of the website, which defined the audience and our brand (who we are).

Goal of the Website

The website should:

Our Audience will be the external community

The external audience includes groups with disparate needs including:

The Site will exemplify the Brand

From the Brand Guide - notice
the bright stripe at right. As well
as the white lines which are
"monocolor, circular, graphic"

The following is taken from the Brand Guide and is here to remind us of the character and intent of the brand that we are to exemplify in the website. For the full Branding please see University Branding Initiative

Brand Personality:

Tagline: Active Minds Changing Lives

From the Branding Guide

Please read the Branding Guide. There is quite a bit of information there which we're still trying to absorb. Below are some excerpts from the Branding Guide (pdf) which are particularly worth pointing out:

From the Brand Guide

Color. "Color is also used as a graphic device punctuating and adding emphasis, often depicted in vertical stripes (as in book bindings in a library stack)."

Photography. "The photography is full color. Students and surroundings are ideally photographed from a unique perspective or images are cropped to maximize graphic interest and impact. " and " People captured in the moment, active, engrossed and candid, allow them to express more personality. However, direct eye contact can be a powerful expression of confidence that is so Western."

Graphic Elements. "The use of subtle, mono-weight white and colored lines layered on brilliant photography may be used to reinforce or add emphasis to text in a graphic manner. At times lines may form circular shapes and wrap words or small messages and even connect to suggest a chain or pathway."

Type. Unfortunately the non-serif typeface given ("Avenir") is not well-supported on the web so we will need to select a more commonly available font such as Verdana.

Design Stages

  1. Features (pdf - 2/7)
  2. Design (Look and Feel - June)
  3. Model (page flow and interactions - June)
  4. Test (includes all content - August)

Status - Features

We have just completed the Features stage and are starting on Design and Modeling. View the full Features Specification (pdf).

Site Overview

One major point of the Features Spec is that the website is not one thing. It is the meshing of multiple disciplines and initiatives as seen in the overview diagram.

Data Gathering

Many of you participated in the Survey we presented on the home page January 5-10. Thank you for your patience and participation. We gathered nearly 8000 responses which really helped define the site.

Other sources of data included: an informal survey of students including an in-depth analysis by a student; review of several dozen other university sites; a sample student-application process that we developed with the help of Admissions. This set up a user case that we will use in future stages of the project as well.

Survey Results

Click to see full-size image of results chart

Of the 7692 responses we received 1118 identified themselves as part of the external community and 6469 as the internal community (the remaining did not specify). The top tasks of these communities differed greatly as can be seen in the chart below. Note that many people reported more than one task.

Top Tasks - External Community Top Tasks - Internal Community
Apply Portal
Programs / Majors Department / Organizations
Portal other
Admissions Jobs
Transcript Classfinder


Also from the Brand Guide