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Northwestern University

College Unveils New Website

Driven by an analysis of user patterns, the redesigned site aims to meet the needs of its audience

By Daniel P. Smith

Weinberg College is presenting a new face to the world.

The College launched a redesigned website on Dec. 1, its first major overhaul since 2013. The new design was propelled by an in-depth analysis of the needs of its website visitors, as well as by the evolution of the College’s strategic vision.

Managed by the web communications team at Northwestern’s Global Marketing group in collaboration with the College’s marketing and communications team, the nearly six-month redesign process sought to improve site navigation, boost storytelling capabilities and align the site’s appearance with the University’s recent rebranding initiative.

“Our website serves a broad audience ranging from students, faculty and staff on campus to international visitors, and we want all of them to easily find the information they need,” says Chris Handzlik, the College’s director of digital communications.

Survey: Previous site “complex” and “busy”

A survey of previous website visitors indicated that while they largely considered the site to be visually appealing and useful, it was also more complex and busy than necessary. Survey respondents also recommended improvements to the site’s organization and searchability.

The website redesign therefore placed an emphasis on navigation improvements such as simplified menus, and new section categorizations that elevate high-demand content.

“We want to ensure that anyone who visits our website with a specific purpose in mind can succeed, and do so quickly,” Handzlik says.

The new design is also intended to establish a strong College identity grounded in the University’s new brand guidelines. The site features a bolder color palette in addition to expanded visual elements and provides more white space around text blocks to simplify reading and minimize clutter.

“The design team looked for places to cut back on text and opportunities for a bigger, bolder display of relevant imagery,” Handzlik says.

More storytelling

There is, Handzlik notes, a greater opportunity for storytelling on the new website as well. At launch, the homepage’s prominent feature was a video narrated by Weinberg College Dean Adrian Randolph highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary thinking in today’s complex world, and explaining how the College is reimagining the traditional arts and sciences education.

Over the coming months, Handzlik says, the redesign team will continue to add and enhance features and functionality as new feedback and site traffic data arrive.

“We want to make sure we’re regularly listening to our website visitors and are providing the information they need in the way that is easiest for them to access,” he says.

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