Sponsored by UWM University Relations, the UWM Web Identity Project aims to provide a method for a strong and consistent UWM themed web presence beginning Fall 2012.
Schools and Colleges will be the initial focus, with plans to later address Administrative Units, Centers and Institutes, Academic Units or Individuals, Microsites, Partnerships, Web Applications, and any other official web or mobile based presence at UWM.
The purpose of this site is to provide you with on-going communications and updates related to this project. We decided it would be best to start by answering some of the more common questions we hear:
1. Why are we doing this?
Chancellor Lovell has indicated that he would like to see a more cohesive approach to how we present ourselves online. While each of our campus units is unique in many ways, we all remain part of a larger organization. How we present ourselves to our constituents should reflect that we’re all working together to achieve common goals. Additionally, our research and focus groups have shown that prospective students, in particular, prefer a site that has a consistent look and navigational structure. We have to be careful not to force our students to understand our organizational structure in order to browse our web site.
2. What does this mean for me and my campus unit?
The new campus web identity will likely mean having to make some modifications to your site’s design and content. If you’re part of an administrative unit, it may also mean that your site becomes integrated into the top-level design and navigation of the main UWM.edu site. This strategy helps ensure that our visitors can easily navigate our site without having to understand our org chart.
3. I want to get started right away, but the themes aren’t available yet. What should I do?
We’re currently aiming for web themes to be available in October/November. But, if you want to get started on your redesign right now, there are many things that can be done prior to needing the web theme. For example, one of the biggest and most time-consuming elements of any redesign is the content audit. Our Web Identity Kit (currently in development) will help you audit your existing web content and provide guidance on restructuring your content to ensure it is easily accessible and updated. The web theme/template is actually one of the last steps in the redesign process, so please feel free to get started now by focusing on your content. Depending on the size of your site, the content audit piece could take months to complete.
4. What’s the process?
When you’re ready to implement the UWM web identity, visit webidentity.uwm.edu and complete the form to request a Web Identity Kit. When we receive your request, we’ll prepare a custom kit that will include an analysis of your site’s web analytics (when available) and recommendations for improvement based on those analytics. The kit will also include templates to help you prepare for the identity implementation including: a sample project plan, a template to help you with your content audit, theme specifications/guidelines, and background documents to help you define roles/responsibilities and set expectations in terms of time and effort related to the implementation of the web identity.
University Relations web staff will be available to assist with implementation of your web theme. We will serve in a consultative role while helping to ensure that the theme uniquely meets your unit’s goals in terms of design and messaging.
5. How much work is involved?
The amount of effort will be dependent on a number of factors including the size of your site and the number of people working on the project. A school or college looking to not only implement the theme, but also take a detailed look at its content could expect the project to last anywhere from 6-8 months. While that may seem daunting, it’s definitely an example of a higher-effort project. Still, it’s important to acknowledge that these projects can take significant time and effort. The outcome, however, is a site that meets the needs of your users and one that could make updating and managing your site going forward a far less significant task.
6. Do I have to pay?
While use of the campus web themes will be free, any customizations or extensions of the theme will be charged at the normal hourly rate of $60/hour. All project consultation and meetings with University Relations staff will remain free. At the initial project meeting, University Relations staff will discuss any elements of the projects that may incur charges.
7. I’m not part of a school or college…is the process different for administrative units?
We will work with some administrative units to integrate their site into the overall design and navigational structure of the top-level UWM.edu site. In some cases, it makes sense for administrative units to be folded into the top-level pages to make it easier for our visitors to find the information they are looking for.
For example, in our current structure, when visitors seek out financial aid information, they get a page with a brief overview of aid offerings. That page drives them into the existing Financial Aid site where the user is forced to navigate a new layout and content structure. By folding the financial aid site into the existing top-level layout and structure, the visitor would have a much more cohesive experience.
Staff in Financial Aid will continue to manage and maintain their content just like before. The only difference is that we will no longer force our web visitors to navigate UWM’s organizational chart in order to find what they’re looking for.
8. Do I have to use the campus content management system?
As part of a separate project, representatives from a number of campus units are exploring the implementation of a secondary content management system. UWM remains committed to its current system, but understands that there are varying needs when it comes to managing web content. Taking this into consideration, the new web themes will be made available across all content management systems that UWM supports.