The Yale Admissions Office website, launched last fall, is the most recent in a string of University sites undergoing redesigns to define Yale’s online image.
The admissions office will continue to add new features to the site over the next six to nine months, though they overhauled the bulk of the content, navigation and artistic elements last semester. New elements will include an “Advice to Candidates” section and “Bulldog’s Blogs” pages created by current students, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel ’75 said.
The changes to the admissions site, like the recent redesigns of the “Yale Health” and “Yale.edu” web pages, were made in accordance with the Office of the University Printer’s visual guidelines for Yale graphics and publications. The guidelines include suggestions for the size and placement of the Yale logo on a page and the shade of “Yale blue.”
University Printer John Gambell said his office and the University’s Web Publishing Services group have helped Yale solidify its online identity in recent years.
“Their strategy and ours is to give Yale’s schools, departments, programs, and administrative offices the guidance and tools they need to publish their content according to their best judgment in a way that ensures a Yale family resemblance,” Gambell said, adding of the admissions site: “The new site is stylish and smart without being gimmicky, and it’s such a clear reflection of Yale’s culture.”
Graphic design professor Pamela Hovland ART ’93, who was brought in to begin creative work on the project a year and a half ago, had just finished a new website for the Yale Chemistry Departmental when the Admissions Office asked her to “re-imagine” their site as well. She said she consulted with Gambell to ensure that the site had both its own identity and a Yale feel.
Brenzel said the new site will help show high school students and their parents what is distinctive about Yale while also giving them the information they need to navigate the application process.
“We think we have made the nuts and bolts information much easier to obtain, while also making our presentation of Yale far more lively,” he said.
Hovland said members of the Admissions Office emphasized that the site should convey the “gravitas” of a Yale education while feeling “inventive” and “fresh” to appeal to prospective students. They also wanted to create “moments of surprise” for users: interactive elements like videos and informational blurbs about Yale.
Visitors to the site immediately encounter what Hovland calls the “splash page,” a slideshow with high-resolution photos of Yale campus and student life, many of them also printed in the Yale Viewbook.
“We knew we wanted to have really strong imagery opening up the site,” Hovland said. “Most of Yale’s peer institutions use small thumbnail images that are kind of a throwaway.”
The team spent months discussing the color and look of the pages, as well as the tone conveyed by the language.
Snigdha Sur ’12, a recruitment coordinator for the Admissions Office and a staff reporter for the News, said she thinks the interactive aspect of the site will excite users, and the student blogs will give applicants a unique perspective on life at Yale.
“I think people have already taken to it well,” she said. “There is a wealth of information that even I have yet to explore, with lots of sage advice from voices all across campus. I think these parts can be the most helpful because they really do speak to the prospective students.”
Yale College received 27,230 applications for the class of 2015.