We've come a long way

We've come a long way

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Rowan University home page redesigned for maximum usability and enjoyment.

Comparatively speaking, Rowan University's original web site was an abacus.

Well, not quite. But the exponential pace of changing web technology makes the original site -which went online in 1997 - seem positively primitive.

The University's latest online iteration, which went live January 18, was designed to enhance the Rowan web experience for all visitors and regular users, especially current students, prospective students and their parents.

For example, the clean, interactive design breaks down pockets of information by user type - future students, current students, faculty & staff, parents & family, community & visitors and alumni & friends. A "Quick Links" tab provides easy access to some of our site's most popular features to eliminate an overabundance of links on the homepage.

A single mouse click takes visitors to the admissions and news sections while, at a glance, visitors can view the daily calendar, see how their favorite Profs teams are doing, access podcasts and see what's playing on Rowan Radio.

One of the site's most dynamic features, a rotating feature carousel, has a single yet cumulative goal - to tell the story of Rowan University to current and prospective students. All of the feature stories contain strong visual elements in addition to the narrative and many are accompanied by video.

Equally important, the site was designed for ease of use across computing platforms, and via every major web browser.

Jen Bell, director of University Web Services, said it's important to constantly enhance the site to keep it interesting and usable for Rowan's many audiences.

"As with most university web sites, Rowan's is a perpetual work in progress," Bell said. "Every day we try to make it a little better."

She noted that the redesign was not some willy-nilly experiment in creativity. Bell, along with designer Kate Hogan and assistant UWS director Joe Ferrarie, studied dozens of college and university web sites for style and usability.

Feedback is key

Prior to the site's relaunch, UWS tested it on campus for usability, likes and dislikes and made some significant changes based on that feedback.
Among those changes:

  • We added links within category drop downs that were requested the most including links to the RU classic homepage, a link to contact us, and a link to the site map.
  • We reduced the size of the feature story carousel by 10% because viewers found it too large.
  • We added the rotating ads (these change often but include ads for Rowan Arts, the Edelman Planetarium, the 10th Anniversary Rowan Engineering Celebration, etc.)
  • And we made a number of small performance tweaks in the background code to make your online experience better and faster.

Though some viewers objected to the use of brown and gold as primary page colors, we maintained that scheme, in a variety of hues and patterns, because brown and gold are the University's colors. They represent Brown-eyed Susans, native flowers that grew in abundance on the land that became Rowan's main campus.

In the weeks and months ahead more adjustments to the home page are inevitable so we seek your feedback on all aspects of the site, from its functions and layout to suggestions on feature stories.

"The homepage has become the University's virtual front door," Bell said. "Your input is vitally important to keeping the homepage fresh, informative and entertaining."