On Aug. 29, Gustavus launched a redesigned website for the first time in five years. Director of Web Services Jerry Nowell explained that the main reasons behind the update was to get a contemporary look and make the site more mobile friendly. In the past year, the mobile and tablet traffic for the Gustavus website has increased by 42 percent. In order to meet the needs of those using their phones, the new website can change and adapt to any screen size and has larger and more spaced buttons.
However, those aren’t the only changes that were made.
The home screen is now more focused on photos and visuals than the word blocks that used to cover the home page. It also includes a social wall. In that section of the home page, pictures from Instagram and tweets from Gustavus accounts are posted. When scrolling down to the social wall, users also notice the utility bar at the top follows them down. This gives people quick access to search and audience specific navigation. The point of audience specific navigation is to make it easier and faster to find what they’re looking for, whether they’re a student, alum, employee, or applicant.
Nowell also mentioned that a popular misconception is that students can no longer log into their Gustavus Webmail and WebAdvisor accounts through the new site. To assure students, he said, “That still exists. You can access it by clicking on the ‘information for’ button and then in the student’s column, you click the heading ‘students’ or, the first link is also a link to the same page. After that it’s still the same.”
To some, this redesign is a welcomed change while others find it more frustrating to use than the old website. Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life Charlie Potts is a member of the former.
“I’m a big fan of the purposeful look at engagement. The whole thing with social media on the home page, I think, is a really neat feature because when we think about how people interact even with our website so often they’re coming to us from social media,” Potts said.
The department of Residential Life, along with many other departments on campus, uses the website often, and isn’t immune to the confusing nature of a brand new and rearranged website.
“It just takes some exploring to figure out where things are. All the same info is out there; it’s just presented in a different way. It still has the same functionality that it always had,” Potts said.
“Student feedback is very important to us. We’ll be making changes, tweaking things based on our feedback that we receive now, indefinitely.”
Senior Communication Studies major Becca Woodstra argues that although the website looks nicer, it’s more complicated to use compared to the old version.
“I don’t not like it, I’m just used to the old one and don’t like change so I don’t like struggling to navigate the new page. The student resources seem a little harder to find. I do like the new look though,” Woodstra said.
Even though some people are still getting used to the new website, Nowell and his staff are always looking ahead. One of the most common and important aspect to their job is responding to user’s concerns.
“Student feedback is very important to us…We’ll be making changes, tweaking things based on our feedback that we receive now, indefinitely,” Nowell said.
Students and other users can send their feedback directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the “Feedback” link at the bottom of each page on the Gustavus website.