The next time you visit the McGill homepage, whether you see it on a desktop or mobile screen, McGill.ca will have a renewed look, feel and purpose. Its redesign is the first stepping stone in a planned transformation of McGill’s web identity. This single homepage will replace the existing McGill homepage as well as mcgill.ca/staff and mcgill.ca/students.
“Our goal with this project was to understand how the homepage is used, and by whom; and with that in mind, to redesign it to align with user expectations and our current brand,” says Heidi Strohl, Digital Design Manager.
This new design marks a shift to a more user-centric approach to McGill’s web platform – a change that has inspired a meaningful and mutually-beneficial partnership between IT Services and Communications and External Relations (CER). “This new approach is a great example of how McGill IT Services has evolved our working model to be more customer-focused,” says Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal of Administration and Finance. “The IT Web Services and CER’s Digital Communications teams worked collaboratively every step of the way on this project, and we can clearly see the fruits of this teamwork through the finished product.” The combined communications and IT team rethought the site’s layout and features to better meet user needs, with heavy emphasis on mobile-friendliness and universal (accessible) design principles.
Changing user habits
“Research suggests that user habits are changing,” adds IT Portfolio Manager Karl Jarosiewicz. “More and more users are entering our ecosystem through mobile devices. It was therefore important that we pay special attention to the mobile version of the site, to ensure users have a consistent, coherent, comprehensive experience across devices.”
But data collection and user-experience testing were not the only inputs feeding the process – the McGill community also had a key impact on the homepage outcome. The enthusiastic involvement of McGill communications experts, staff and students provided insightful and constructive feedback.
“We invited community members to get involved and were pleased to see how actively they participated. Their response allowed us to gain better perspective and to adjust where necessary,” says CER Vice-Principal Louis Arseneault. “This really is a shared achievement that the whole community can be proud of.”
First of many McGill web updates
The launch isn’t the end of the story, but rather marks the first of many exciting updates to the McGill web environment expected to roll out over the course of the next few years.
“The unveiling of the new homepage is an opportunity to allow users to interact with the interface, explore the new menus and features and give us more feedback,” says Sylvie Vachon, Director of Digital Communications for CER. “That, along with more user testing and data collection post-launch, will help validate the direction we are going in, and to make improvements as needed.”
Other large-scale university projects on the horizon will also lend themselves to the continued evolution of the homepage and the rest of McGill’s websites, including McGill’s rebranding initiative and the upcoming bicentennial celebrations.
Continue to stay abreast of digital communications initiatives and provide your feedback through the Web Evolution Program website.