Western rolls out website refresh

As students toss their shiny laptops in their new backpacks, Western is also polishing up its appearance with a new look to its homepage.

Over the past year, small tweaks have been made to Western’s websites ensuring they are compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and responsive to people viewing from desktop computers and increasingly on mobile devices. Those changes signaled a perfect time to refresh the overall look, feel and design of websites across the university with bigger, bolder photos and graphics, said Terry Rice, Executive Director (Marketing Communications).

“Full-width photography on our core landing pages will likely be the most striking visual change people will notice,” he said. “We have also used larger thumbnail photography to add visual interest and our fonts are more contemporary and mobile-friendly for viewers on smaller screens.”

Rice’s team has also worked to clean up background code to ensure pages load quicker – important for those on mobile devices and, increasing Western’s search ranking with Google.

The main navigation has stayed the same, but the content strategy is now much different.

“The homepage is our gateway to the world – the stories we tell, the content we feature must be geared to our external audiences,” he said. “Visitors will see a focus on undergraduate and graduate recruitment, as well as research stories that highlight the impact of the incredible work of our faculty and graduate students.”

The refreshed look was a team effort between Communications and Public Affairs and Western Technology Services (WTS). Gulnara Shafikova and Mathew Hoy led the work for Communications, while Judy Steward and Dan Boyd ensured its success from the WTS side. Three Western students, and one young alumnus, were also hired to help refresh thousands of pages throughout the summer months.

“We could not have done this work without this talented team,” Rice said.

He added it was important the university did its homework both in terms of what the analytics said about the visitors to the homepage, as well as any emerging technologies and best practices in the education sector.

While the initial focus of the changes has been to the university homepage, faculty sites and a few core second-level pages, attention will turn this fall/winter to the university’s administrative units and bring their websites into this new look and feel.

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Have a suggestion or idea about the university’s refreshed websites? The university homepage, westernu.ca, features a purple ‘Feedback’ tab on the right side of the page. Simply click, type, comment and submit.