Correction appended: A previous version of this article misidentified Cimone Scott’s gender.
University students and faculty may have been surprised when they didn’t see the typical University gateway website on their computer screens last Friday night.
The website, umich.edu, underwent an aesthetic lift last week, something that the University’s Marketing and Design team had been working on since last fall, according to David Lampe, the University’s vice president for communications.
A thorough redesign of the website — which had remained unchanged since 2006 — is projected to be completed by January 2012, Lampe said.
“This is not a redesign, but a quick refresh,” he said. “If you notice, the content and the structure is largely the same.”
The website’s new look combines the directory and site search functions into one, which Lampe said is going to be made even better in the redesign.
Also among the alterations already made to the website are the widening of the homepage and larger links and photographs on the main site, Lampe said.
University President Mary Sue Coleman said at yesterday’s Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs meeting that she thinks the new layout will be helpful for users navigating the website.
“This is a refresh of the gateway to try to make it more interactive and lively,” Coleman said. “And I’m sure that the folks in the communications (office) would be interested in feedback.”
Lampe also said that student and faculty feedback is appreciated and encouraged. He and his colleagues in the Office of the Vice President for Communications want to get University-affiliated individuals involved in the redesign process, he said.
“We want to encourage user participation, community building,” Lampe said.
Coleman told SACUA members that she thinks this is a “good project,” but the redesign is going to be a laborious process.
“(The redesign) is going to take a more thorough job,” Coleman told the faculty governing body.
The initial cost to revamp the gateway website is about $30,000, and the redesign is anticipated to cost about $200,000, Lampe said.
“Over the course of the next year, we plan to work with an outside vendor to do a formal assessment — both internal and external — of the role, and the effectiveness and the expected changes that will be required to have one of the best university websites in the world,” Lampe said.
Feedback about the new design has been “overwhelmingly positive” so far, Lampe said.
Some students, like LSA senior Mercedes Harvey, who have seen the updated website said they like the change.
“I work for the University, so it’s lot easier to have people navigate,” Harvey said.
LSA senior Cimone Scott said she’s seen the website changes and thinks it looks “more playful.” But she said she doesn’t like the removal of the express “directory” button.
LSA junior Alex Kaminski said he hadn’t noticed the website’s new appearance, but said he thought the website’s old design was “outdated.”
Though LSA junior Josh Mack said he hasn’t seen the altered website, he said his past experience with the University gateway site wasn’t the best.
“I thought it was tough to navigate at some points, but not terrible,” he said.
— Neha Garg contributed to this report.