Phase 1 of the website project included discovery, planning, and design.


Discovery

The project began with an expert review and competitive analysis, in addition to user research.

To better understand how users want to use our site and the challenges they face that our website can help solve, we examined:

  • insight based on what we have learned over the past six years with our current site
  • previously collected research
  • additional interviews conducted with prospective and current students, faculty, staff, and alumni

We also:

  • met regularly with our Website Project Advisory Committee
  • held three workshops on website content, navigation site structure, and content editing

Discovery continued in December 2019 through meetings with academic department head, administrative department heads, and content editors and will remain ongoing throughout the project.

Key findings

Prospective student commentProspective students

  • are looking for easily accessible content around what steps students need to take to pursue attending Mount Allison
  • often feel overwhelmed by first steps
  • sometimes have difficulty understanding the terminology and processes involved in applying to Mount Allison and the requirements they must meet
  • are discouraged by a long application process
  • say visual design and branding is important to them; visuals draw them in, branding helps create trust
  • find courses and programs info to be the most important content
  • want to understand what it’s like to go to Mount A (e.g. campus life, atmosphere on campus, extracurricular activities, the interaction between professors and students)
  • want to easily be able to find scholarship information

Feedback from staffCurrent students

  • say the most important information for them is about programs and courses, class schedules, and student services
  • want to be able to find their content easily

Faculty & staff

  • would like to see consistency across departmental pages, with better content and layout
  • want a better user experience for content editors who are updating the website

Alumni

  • want a better online experience for the Record, Mount Allison's alumni magazine, and wanted to see Record stories better incorporated elsewhere in the website (e.g. connect alumni stories to prospective student pages)
  • information on events and activities as well as campus news was most important for alumni

Planning

Using what was learned in the discovery phase, we developed the new site’s:

  • information architecture — how content is structured so users can easily find what they are looking for
  • content model — outlines what kind of information must be included on each different type of page

The planning stage also included conducting a content audit of the current website.

Information architecture

Navigation

The information architecture includes several types of navigation to make it easy for users to find what they are looking for:

  • 1 Global navigation — the main navigation at the top of the page is geared toward prospective students
  • 2 Role-based navigation — resources for different groups of users (e.g. current students, faculty & staff, parents & families, etc.)
  • 3 Tool bar — includes links to the directory, the online donation page, and regularly-used tools like e-mail, Moodle, etc.

Design

Wireframes and prototypesThe final stage of Phase 1 including:

  • developing wireframes
  • creating the webpage designs
  • developing a content strategy

Wireframes and prototypes

A wireframe is like a blueprint — it shows how a user will interact with the website, how and where elements will be placed on a page, and what features and content the page will include. Wireframes do not convey the creative design, the ultimate look and feel of pages, or the final content.

Design

Designs

The overall look of the site is modern, clean, and dynamic. The aim is to create pages that are engaging, experiential, and discoverable, while ensuring content is dependable and trustworthy.

Garnet and gold remain the most prominent colours, but the University’s secondary colours have also been used to create energy and pops of colour.

The designs will continue to evolve as we begin to turn the static designs into working templates. Although the design direction will remain true to the concepts presented on this page, changes will be made as necessary to ensure the website functions as well as it can and meets user needs.

We will continue to meet with academic and administrative departments, as well as content editors, to discuss elements of the evolving design and the new content management system that are relevant to their needs as the project moves forward.

Content strategy

The content strategy outlines:

  • how content can be organized, structured, and prioritized to best communicate to our audiences
  • how we should manage the lifecycle of web content to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date
  • the roles and responsibilities of those involved in building the website, the process and workflow for managing content, and how the website should be structured to support those people and processes

Feedback

Comments or questions can be directed to Rob Hiscock at rhiscock@mta.ca or (506) 364-2345.