Why did you decide to redesign the website?
The current design you see at NJIT.edu dates from the 2006-2007 school year. Web design (like fashion design, automobile design, and architectural styles) constantly evolves in response to changing technology, increased user expectations, and innovation.
Further, as we “layered on” additional features and functions to the website over the last four years, it inevitably began to feel disjointed. It was time to step back and make thoughtful, purposeful, and systemic improvements.
Four years is just about average for the interval of time between major website design refreshes. We are right on that schedule.
So, what are the goals of the website re-design?
1. Focus on audience and outcomes (e.g., appeal to prospective students, satisfy current students, etc.).
2. Update and modernize the user interface and user experience (e.g., improve findability and navigatability, reduce clicks, etc.).
3. Reduce friction (e.g., make it easier to inquire, apply, volunteer, ask, share, subscribe, find, etc.).
4. “Merchandize” our programs and courses (e.g., make our majors easier to find, do a better job describing them and comparing them, etc.).
5. Flexible and sustainable designs (e.g., more design variations, better re-use of content, etc.).
Who is leading the design change?
NJIT's Office of Strategic Communications is responsible for communicating NJIT's messages to a variety of audiences through publications, websites, advertisements, public relations, and more. We convened a committee of faculty, staff, and students in spring 2010 to select White Whale Web Design from Oakland, CA, to work with us to update our website designs.
Why have you moved from a liquid layout to a fixed layout?
Well, back in 2006 we thought the “right thing” to do was to design for liquid layout. After all, that is the ideal. However, in practice, it was too limiting. We could not reliably predict what web pages would look like as we added features and content to them.
This new design is planned for a 960 pixel-wide safe area.
Is NJIT changing its CMS (Content Management System)? Will I have to learn a new system?
NJIT migrated from the Documentum CMS to the Site Studio CMS during the 2006-2007 redesign. We have purposefully pushed aside the question of our CMS during this redesign. While we have been looking (and will continue to look) at other CMS's in the market, we didn't want to put a new CMS on the critial path of this website re-design.
While there will be some changes in the way that Site Studio presents the website to editors, such changes will be minor.
Will Content Officers in all these departments need to migrate their websites to a new site so that it shows up in the new design?
No. Because CMS's separate content and presentation, the Office of Strategic Communications will be scripting “template flips” that will simply take the content already entered for your site and automagically make it appear in the new design. There may need to be some small adjustments for each site (the fine tweaking), but 90+% should be fully automatic.
Is new content being written for the website?
Some new content is being written, but this re-design is more focused on the design and user interfaces aspects of the website. Content is being updated all the time from both the Office of Strategic Communications as well as writers in offices across campus.
That said, a re-design is a great time to reassess our content and rededicate ourselves to good web writing.
How long will this re-design process take?
The first wave of new designs is planned for mid-December. During the spring and into the summer, other sites (like academic college and departments, administrative offices, research centers and labs) will get new design treatments in successive waves.
We expect to be through the first push of 200+ sites by fall 2011, and we expect the ripples of these first waves to promulgate through the scores of other less-visible, but still important, websites in the coming years.
Why are some pages changed to the new design while other pages have the old design? And, why do some links not work?
Well, as we already said, the new design will be published out in waves. We will have different design templates for different types of sites (academic department vs. an administrative office, for example).
We certainly hope that we haven't broken any links when publishing our new website templates, but I'm sure we've missed some here and there. We are actively checking for these, so if you see something broken, you might find it fixed a few hours later. To report a broken link please contact the NJIT Help Desk (http://ist.njit.edu/support/helpdesk.php).
Why so much blue? I thought NJIT's colors were red?
Red will continue to be in the color palette of the website, but large fields of red (say, as a background color) are difficult to work with—especially on electronic screens. The blue (web safe R:0 G:0 B:51) is already used in NJIT athletics and provides a nice rich and warm background color over which we can lay a variety of other content and design elements.
What's with the # in the URL's?
Ah, so you've noticed. The new site was coded in forward-looking HTML5. To achieve the sliding behavior between top-level sections, we've used the History API. (Read about it in John Gruber's blog.) However, to have the sliding work in browsers that are not HTML5 compliant, we have to show the # in the URL. If you are a Facebook user, you'll notice that Facebook does the same thing as you navigate around.
How can I give my ideas and feedback?
Contact Matthew Golden, Associate Vice President for Communications, Marketing and Branding at firstname.lastname@example.org or call directly at 973-596-5695.