The redesign of UAMS.edu is an opportunity to change the front door where most people are first introduced to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The new design focuses the visitor on the UAMS mission, providing a gateway to more information on the three parts of the UAMS mission. The clean design lines quickly move the site visitor down the page to the top news and then to links to the Colleges, Institutes and helpful information.
The top banner of the site clearly presents the UAMS brand logo and tag line while providing access to the most used navigational tool on the web site— a search box that searches all uams.edu web sites and uamshealth.com. The horizontal navigation allows the site visitor to jump to one of the top visited sections of the web site. The next section of the new design gives a brief overview of UAMS for search engine optimization with three large photos in a banner focusing on the three parts of the UAMS mission: patient care, education and research. Each image has a button to take site visitor to a page with more information about that part of the UAMS mission. The third section of the site of the site provides current news at UAMS featuring three stories with photos, a fourth story without a photo and then scrolling news headlines. The bottom section provides quick links to Colleges and Institutes and helpful links to other high use sections of the web site with space for four banners to provide home page space to interior sites. The footer of the new design provides specific contact, disclaimer and privacy inform about the site. If the user’s web browser window is open wide the UAMS seal will be visible in the background behind the site. All of the content of the current UAMS.edu is present in the new design.
Why did the design change so much?
The current design of www.uams.edu was implemented in 2003. Although there have been updates to the site design since then, it is still running on the same basic framework implemented in 2003. Since 2003, web browser updates, faster computers and available Internet bandwidth has radically changed web design standards. The new design is based on current web standards, providing accessibility to all site visitors.
What kind of research did you do before the redesign?
As we went through the redesign process we analyzed two years’ worth of user data from UAMS.edu, investigating what the most-used parts of the site were and how users interacted with the site. In the design process we analyzed best practices from other healthcare and educational institutions and made sure their successes were incorporated in the new design.
The new design for UAMS.edu has gone through three designs in its evolution. The design was initially piloted with two departments in the College of Medicine with revisions to that design tested on six additional departments in the College of Medicine. After each round of testing design changes were implemented and usability testing was conducted to see how visitors accomplished specific tasks on the site. Through the testing process changes have been made to the site header, top navigation, left navigation, background and footer to adjust to the way visitors used the site.
A preview of the new design has been posted on the UAMS.edu home page with a request for visitor feedback for six weeks. Over 2500 visitors have viewed the page with around 50 leaving overwhelmingly positive feedback.
What is involved in the redesign?
Besides changing the look and feel with the new design most UAMS web sites are being migrated to a content management system (CMS). A CMS simplifies the editing of a web site, allowing editors to change web page content through a web browser interface – the process is very similar to what is used for editing a word processing document. Through simplifying the process of updating web sites, we are encouraging distributed authorship with individual site editors updating their site as needed, continually.
A CMS also separates the content of the web site from the design of the site, allowing for design changes to be pushed down to the all the sites any time changes are made on the master template.
What is the timeline for the design change?
While the UAMS.edu home page and core pages will be changed this month, the conversion process for all the UAMS.edu sites has been ongoing for over year and will continue for another year. Many sites are moving their own content to the new design so the timeline is dependent on the resources dedicated by each administrative unit. Currently over 80 percent of the UAMS.edu sites have moved to the new design or are in the progress of moving to the new designs.
Converted to New Design
- College of Pharmacy
- College of Medicine – 19 departments
- Regional Programs
- Area Health Education Centers
- Northwest Campus
- Graduate School
- College of Medicine core site
- College of Medicine– 6 departments
- College of Health Related Professions
- College of Nursing
- College of Public Health
- Administrative Units
What about the Intranet?
As part of the overall web redevelopment at UAMS, the Intranet is the final piece of the puzzle. A redesign of the Intranet is already underway and we will begin testing prototype designs in the Summer of 2012. Conversion of the Intranet to a new design and content management system will be a gradual process as resources allow.
Who is doing the redesign?
The redesign is being led by the UAMS Web Center in the Office of Communications and Marketing with individual site knowledge and support provided by each administrative unit. With experience from launching and managing the award- winning web site UAMShealth.com, the UAMS Web Center applied its knowledge of user center design, project management and content management systems to UAMS.edu. Each administrative unit provides a site editor(s) to help in the process of moving to the new design.
The UAMS Web Center has received over ten national Web marketing and online healthcare awards since the launch of UAMShealth.com in January 2009 including the E-Health Care Leadership Gold Award for Best Overall Site, Best E-Business Site, Best Web 2.0 Site and Best Physician Directory, the Greystone.net Best in Class Award for Innovation, the MarCom Web Interactive Capabilities Platinum Award, and the Web Marketing Association Standard of Excellence in Healthcare Award.