The Office of Communications is charged with developing and maintaining the identity of the university as it relates to our print and online publication, including the university website. As such, we're often required to look at website design issues with a broader lens than individual departments or users may consider when requesting changes.
The design of the university website focuses on prospective students as a primary audience. Still, it must also support other user groups who need to find information on the website, including current students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and community members. With this focus on prospective students, the website was designed to relate closely to the print materials used in the Admission process. Also, this design has made an effort to show Puget Sound's story more visually than our past designs have allowed, rather than just telling the story in text.
In addition to remembering this larger design impact of the site and its connection to other communication pieces that help tell the story of Puget Sound to prospective students, it is important to realize that the Office of Communications must consider all potential template modifications not only in the limited scope of the page or pages involved but in how requested changes may impact a user's overall experience on the website, including usability concerns.
That said, no design will please 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time. The Office of Communications strives to meet the needs of CMS users in a way that does not detract from the overall experience of a site visitor and supports the design aesthetics and functionality to maintain the university's branding and identity.
- All pages must have the black global navigation bar to guarantee that site visitors can easily access all areas as they navigate the site. This bar also provides site branding, as it has the Admission type treatment identifying this as the Puget Sound website.
- At this time, the photo area above the black bar may not be removed. While it does increase screen real estate "above the fold" (the screen area you see without scrolling down), removing this bar causes the black global navigation bar to jump up and down between pages of the site, creating a more disjointed user experience. Users in this day and age are prepared to scroll for information. There are many adjustments individuals can make to help with scrolling depending on individual needs, such as keyboard shortcuts, changing screen resolutions, etc.). In special cases, it may be possible to change the photo strip to a different graphic to give a page a unique look without changing the black global navigation and branding bar's location. Contact the Web Manager for more information.
- The orange breadcrumb navigation bar with the black search site section may not be removed. This breadcrumb navigation is a vital navigational structure that allows users to navigate sections and subpages without moving back up or down the tree to intermediate pages. The breadcrumb also provides a visual indicator of the user's location in the site's information architecture, orienting the site visitor. And perhaps most importantly, this bar includes the site search option present on all site pages.
- The use of the white content area is the most flexible space on the page. If you have special needs for this white space that are not fulfilled using any existing templates, please contact the Web Manager to discuss your needs. It is generally not recommended to design a template using the full width of the white content area, as you lose your Print/Share bar, as well as any optional features you may have wanted on the right side of the page (Contact Information, Related Pages, etc.). Also, if your design includes text across the white space, the line length using the full width decreases your text's readability, as the human eye cannot easily read across such a long line and then scan back and quickly find the beginning of the correct following line.
- When considering the development of interface widgets for your design, we will need to consider if similar constructs are used elsewhere to eliminate confusion for the user about competing for interface designs. These will also be subject to accessibility concerns.
- The black footer bar should not be removed. As it is at the bottom of the screen, it doesn't impact screen real estate in the same way as the top banners and provides users a consistent place to find certain links.
- Any template modifications considered must work in conjunction with the existing site color palette and typography. Any special needs for special colors or fonts will need to be considered by the university Design Director to ensure that the site design is supported. Also, there may be special connotations to various design elements that may mean they cannot be used in another context without potentially confusing site visitors, such as the consistent use of the orange color on lower levels of the site in relation to navigational spaces, including the breadcrumb bar, Related Pages box, and the special navigation highlight box on the library landing page. The site templates don't offer the orange color as an option for additional side lets or the top feature box to not compete with this existing navigational component color coding.