About 10 years old, the Virginia International University website needed a new look to match its growing student population. The site was built before a responsive design was necessary. More and more of VIU's users were accessing it from mobile devices and tablets, and unable to experience a cohesive web experience.
The existing site was often described as "tired," "cluttered," "ugly," and "too busy;" and was not properly optimized for search engine optimization. In addition to needing to adopt a responsive approach, the site also required a complete redesign that highlighted VIU's campus experience, highlighted next steps, and action items for the site's main audience, prospective students from across the globe. Bottom line, they wanted a more flexible, easy-to-use content management system.
I played an important role as a part of the product team, where I was responsible for the user experience strategy and redesign of the website. My focus was leading the UX work, producing all major deliverables, and presenting these to the website committee. I presented research on best practices for the committee on all kinds of topics ranging from responsive navigations to ordering processes from the user experience perspective. I was also responsible for understanding and presenting conversion optimization examples.
To fully understand the needs and goals of VIU, we conducted interviews with stakeholders across multiple departments to understand their governance strategy and what changes would need to be made to ensure a sustainable process.
It was important for the website redesign to clearly define the university's brand while highlighting its values; offer better usability site visitors; increase inquiries, applications, and enrollment; and finally, foster greater community engagement, interaction, and involvement.
The new Virginia International University site is fully responsive, creating a user experience that is optimized for all devices. The streamlined admission and financial aid sections have made it easier for prospective students to find the information they need and ultimately apply for acceptance to VIU.