Internet users who logged onto the University’s website last week had a surprise waiting for them.
The website, www.umich.edu, suddenly changed on Thursday, concluding a redesign begun last fall. Site administrations say the new design boasts a number of improvements, but some students said they consider the update a change for the worse.
The website’s gateway hadn’t been updated in four and a half years. Its design and technology were antiquated, said Lisa Rudgers, vice president for communications and leader of the project to update the website.
For students and faculty going through the University’s web gateway, this translates to a simpler, more efficient experience, she said.
“The feedback that I’ve received with all the user tests has been overwhelmingly positive,” Rudgers said.
But some students who had grown accustomed to the old, familiar gateway complained about the redesign.
Some key changes might not be so obvious to students, Rudgers said.
The site’s revised design loads more quickly and is easier to maintain, said Deborah Gibson, a University media designer who worked on the project.
More visibly, the Gateway Team, the group that runs the University’s main website, changed the site’s main colors from the University’s classic maize and blue to a more muted periwinkle, following what Rudgers called “a more contemporary style of web design.”
Gibson compared the gateway’s overhaul to that of CNN.com, which removed its signature dark blue navigation bars and launched a more open and accessible main page this week.
“The gateway designers wanted to present a lighter overall feel,” she said.
Some students expressed indignation at the Gateway Team’s decision not to use the University’s signature colors.
“I’m outraged,” LSA junior Steve Peretz said. “I’d rather have maize and blue again.”
Rackham student Fengfeng He said he isn’t bothered by the color change, although he acknowledges it might agitate some students.
“The color is milder, in a way,” He said. “It’s still kind of bluish, but it’s not a ‘Go Blue’ kind of blue.”
Other students said the changes in the site’s graphic design are improvements.
“I think it looks nicer and more professional,” LSA sophomore Tim Reid said.
Other students seemed pointedly apathetic to the website’s appearance.
“Personally, I don’t care what it looks like as long as it’s easy to use,” LSA senior Megan Hall said.
Rudgers said the Gateway Team hoped to improve the user experience without making any radical changes to the old navigation system.
“With the new gateway, the design is cleaner, the approach is cleaner, so you’re getting a quicker and less cluttered view of the content that was always available,” Rudgers said.
Although the gateway’s navigation system remains the same, some students, like LSA junior Sarah Wohlstadter, said they would have liked notification about the new design like the announcements they received before the Wolverine Access and Course Tools updates took effect. However, Wohlstadter said she adjusted to the new gateway quickly.
“It was confusing at first, but I saw the same old links and knew where I was going,” she said.