Awarded The Sunday Times University of the Year 2012, the University of Bath is a leading British institute for further education, featuring an extensive website spanning its vast array of courses and faculties. With in-house technical capabilities and web services, and with each department operating as its own separate entity, the university wished to maintain the individualistic nature of each area.
DESIGNS uniquely developed to optimise key user journeys & pages
STAKEHOLDERS involved in in-depth research process
DEPARTMENTS catered to via a library of new interactive design modules
Following a competitive tender After Digital was selected to design a total of 20 new pages centred on the three core faculties of engineering and design, science, and humanities and social sciences, with an additional ‘wild card’ design for the management faculty.
- Integrate with existing University branding
- Develop more distinct areas for each department
- Better understand & meet user needs
- Manage multiple stakeholders successfully and translate individual perspectives effectively.
Research into the websites of faculties from peer universities allowed us to identify the pros and cons of other designs targeting the same demographic. This approach was taken as After Digital realised the challenge was far more diverse than simply analysing one university against another, but that each course had to be compared with its equivalent elsewhere, as every course had a unique character and drive of its own. This research created a more holistic understanding of the marketplace and audiences.
User-first design has always been our approach to great web design. Aiming to analyse user needs from a range of difference perspectives, 30+ individuals with input into the website design process were asked to fill out an extensive survey compiled by After Digital, whilst others were interviewed face-to-face for more qualitative data. These insights allowed us to establish the organisational objectives and foundations of key user journeys.
User Journey Research
Research into how the user arrives at the University website and in particular the course pages was conducted, looking at search terms, behaviours, context and user journeys. Menus and navigation were reviewed, as the main menu and sub menus support navigation of key site areas, thus acting as crucial elements in shaping the user journey through the site. The research also delved into calls to action (CTAs) to review how these guided the visitor through the website, thus allowing the University to better facilitate users in achieving their goals.
The original brief asked for a unique and different design for each faculty, however we felt this would have led to a disjointed and inconsistent University website. Our solution was to promote a consistent visual identity through the creation of a module library, from which they could construct their own pages. Each faculty was distinguished with its own colour theme, creating a University-wide complimentary palette.
After Digital’s design team developed a series of detailed drawings together with full justifications for each module and its variations. These drawings illustrated the purpose and functionality of each module (covering all standard styles of graphs and charts), to show the flexibility of this solution and ensure all bases were covered. These detailed drawings were then designed in line with the styling developed for the new University course pages.
The vast library of modules now provides a bank of resources, which can be combined in countless different ways to produce a variety of results according to each department’s differing needs.
“Full of ideas and having a very positive attitude towards the challenges of designing for Higher Education, After Digital has produced fantastic results. The creative team assigned to our project, was easy to work with and produced an attractive design that not only complimented and adhered to our existing Visual Identity, but also enhanced several areas of the user experience.”
University of Bath