NIU site redesign launched

By Jackie Nevarez

The university’s website redesign, featuring navigation changes based on how the site is used, was announced and previewed at University Council before its 9 p.m. Wednesday launch.

Web Communications Director Jennice O’Brien said any bugs on the site,, would be fixed by 9:30-9:45 p.m. Web and Marketing Communications worked with Outreach Creative Services to develop the redesign in eight weeks. O’Brien said she focused on the content and navigation, while Brian Walk, Outreach Creative Services director, worked on the design and coding aspect of the website.

O’Brien said the old design had an “institutional tone” and hadn’t been updated in four years. The new design features larger photography, more events and a white and gray background. A Quick Links tab has been added to the top right corner for students, faculty and staff to access Blackboard, MyNIU and email from the homepage. O’Brien said the new design is “clean, bold, personal, intimate, colloquial.”

“We want to tell the story of the student experience tailored to the individual, and our main audiences are prospective and current students,” O’Brien said.

The redesign was based on website usage tracked by Google Analytics and heatmap analysis, which show how frequently certain links on the website are clicked. O’Brien said developers used testing where students were asked to go to certain pages on the website and explain how they got there, as well as seeing what terminology competitive sites used, like “donate” versus “give” and “apply” versus “admissions.”

O’Brien said she hopes the redesign will be more mobile-friendly, as data in her presentation showed mobile website views increased 8.12 to 13.53 percent from April 2013 to 2014. Likewise, tablet users have increased views of the website 3.13 to 4.1 percent. Meanwhile, desktop views have decreased, going from 88.76 to 82.38 percent of the website’s views.

Raquel Chavez, Student Association vice president, said she liked how the website redesign’s new motto of “Your Future, Our Focus” goes along with the SA’s mission, “Your Voice, Our Mission,” while SA Senate Speaker Dillon Domke said he liked how “what’s going on,” or events, are listed on the new home page.