Short-term web project.

We are excited to announce our latest project – rolling out the new look University brand to the website and restructuring the Undergraduate 2017 prospectus so it is more user focused.

The project

We are currently undergoing a brand refresh, and it is our job to roll this out to our website.  We are also working on improving the end user experience to make sure our potential students find the information they require easily and have a lasting good impression of the University from using the website.

We set out to

  • Create new templates by taking on board the findings of user testing, data from Google Analytics, key user journeys and our brand messages
  • Work with digital agency Precedent to create a ‘clean’ and easy to use design
  • Meet students’ needs by filling the prospectus and homepage with content they want and need.
  • Improve the usability of the site

What challenges have we faced?

  • We have thousands of pages on our website, meaning the new templates can only be rolled out to a small section initially. The rest of the website will receive changes to the header, footer, navigation and content
  • We worked hard to minimise the disconnect between the new and old styles. We handled this by keeping the design work within some of the elements of the current site, including the width of the page.

What we did

Work began in the summer when we joined forces with two website agencies, which helped us look at how easy our website is to use. They also helped us to look at the quality of our content.

The work highlighted some major problems:


  • Hard to find
  • Difficult to understand
  • Unclear who the audience is
  • Poor presentation
  • Lots of duplicate, out of date and unnecessary copy

User experience

  • Users found it difficult to use the navigation and find information
  • Too many pages, and pages were disjointed making the user journey too long
  • User journey is not clear- what do we want users to do next?
  • Large gaps in content that users need and want

Our design process

We completed an iterative cycle of design, user-testing and amendments to make sure our site is evidenced based and user friendly.

  • User research and analytics informs development of wire-frame prototype – September 2015
  • Wire-frame prototype tested with Sussex students – October 2015
  • New prototype designed based on user feedback and brand – November 2015
  • Prototype tested with A-level students – December 2015
  • Design and content updated based on user  feedback – January 2016

post-it notesWire-frame homepage

Wire-frame course page

What improvements have we made in the new design?


  • Optimised: Designed for users and supports our strategy
  • Clear: New content which is easy to understand and needed by students
  • Modernised design: Reflects our brand



Undergraduate Prospectus 2017 (Study with Us)

  • Focused: More course specific content
  • Targeted: Clear next steps (calls to action). For example, users are driven to apply for an open day
  • Relevant: Strong student and staff testimonials. Course content structured by year
  • New content: Sourced new academic profiles, social media and student life content
  • User friendly: Short, snappy and less repetitive content. Electives and pathways re-categorised to be more intuitive. Tool tips implemented to help students understand our terminology

Course page

Improved navigation

  • Calls to action now follow the user as they scroll down the page. This means the user can apply or book an open day at any stage during their journey

Course page with floating navigation


  • Improved navigation
  • User focused templates more engaging

Mobile responsive templates

What did our users think?

We went to a local school and asked students to use the new designs and feedback their thoughts. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Students said

  • Information is easy to find
  • The design is ‘clean,’ and ‘modern’
  • Open day booking form is easy to find and simple to do
  • Finding a course is easy and quick

What are our next steps?

We are really pleased with the response we have received so far, but there is still more to do.

We are now building and developing the new pages. We plan to go live with these pages at the end of February.

We need to look at

  • Terminology: This is still confusing to some users, for example pathways and electives
  • Lack of content about student lifestyle
  • Content: Ensure this is targeted, relevant and engaging.

We will also be

  • Monitoring and generating user feedback
  • Planning a new template and content rollout to other parts of the website.

We will be tackling the more fundamental issues with the information architecture and content across the website. These are longer term projects and we will keep you updated on this blog.

Posted in Short-term web development

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