IOWA CITY, Iowa - On Tuesday last week, the University of Iowa's new website went live. "We just have spent the first few days looking for technical glitches, ironing those out as we run into them," said Lin Larson, creative director for the University of Iowa's Communication and Marketing department.
Larson said the university started work on the website redesign about 2 years ago, but it's been nearly 8 years since the last major overhaul.
"This is probably the most intensive redesign we've done, maybe since the homepage launched almost 20 years ago," said Larson.
A lot has changed in the two decades since the site's basic text origins. The new site has been cleaned up visually, features more streamlined navigation on its homepage, and is easier to use with mobile devices, a key feature as more people use tablets and smartphones.
"This site will scale and reshuffle content to fit on a tablet or a phone," Larson explained. "We also put a content management system behind it, which makes it much easier to update so we can have a site that changes on a daily basis."
Larson said universities are big, complex institutions, meaning their websites inherit that complexity. The challenge is creating a site that clearly tells the university's story through its homepage, and associated department pages, for 30,000 to 50,000 daily online visitors.
"We have a lot of people that come directly from search engines, so they don't come through the front door. They find the department site they want from Google," Larson told us.
Larson said the only minor glitches encountered so far have to do with the site's compatibility with different web browsers. He said the real test will be when students get back from their holiday break on January 21st, and web traffic will increase dramatically.