While Yale’s campus overhaul is no secret to anyone within earshot of the jackhammers taking over Cross Campus, the University gave itself a quieter, digital makeover this week with a new front-door Web site.
For the first time in seven years — and the third time since the University first launched www.yale.edu in 1993 — Yale’s online face sported a new look as of 7 a.m. Monday morning. The new site is the culmination of a year of collaboration between designers and a committee comprised of faculty, staff, administrators and students, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said. Many students said they think the site is a refreshing improvement on the last, but some said the number and placement of links could take some getting used to.
Administrators and members of the committee said they hope the new site will make navigation and searching easier while adhering to the old site’s design principle of simplicity.
“We hope [the site] makes it easier to find many of the online presentations of the University,” said Lorimer, who oversaw the project. “We wanted to make it cleaner and better for those who use it all the time but also more useful for visitors.”
The “blue page,” as the site is called informally, has come a long way since the initial 1993 design, which featured antique books on a white background. The books sported titles like “Admissions” and “Alumni Affairs,” and a banner of text at the top of the page exhorted visitors to “click on the title of your choice.” That design was replaced in June 1999 with the site that was replaced this week.
The new site includes a temporary field — which will be available until mid October — for comments about the design and functionality of the site.
The design committee made navigability, content and design its top priorities during the drafting process, said Brad Galiette ’08, one of two students to serve on the committee. He said the committee looked at the Web sites of Brown University and the University of Virginia, as well as a host of other schools, for both inspiration and examples of designs to avoid.
“We are a very unique institution, and we needed a unique Web site,” Galiette said. “It is aesthetically pleasing as well as a true information destination.”
Galiette is a design manager for the News.
While many students said they admire the new site for its larger pictures and more “open” feel, some said they are less happy with the ease of navigation, particularly compared with that of the last site.
Terrence Ho ’09 said he likes the site overall — especially the slide show with pictures of the campus, faculty and students — but he said some of the secondary pages had too many links on them.
“I like the fact that it is brighter and cleaner and not all blue, but there are too many links that take you to more lists of links,” he said.
Upon visiting the new site, Molly Fischer ’09 discovered that she makes a cameo appearance in the slide show.
“I am proud to be a part, however passively and unwittingly, of the site,” she said. “I just wish I weren’t wearing a dumb-looking shirt in the picture.”
Fischer said she finds the new Web site to be more stylistically modern and easier to navigate than the old site, which she described as “clunky” and “static.”
Megan Evans ’10 said she thinks the new site’s simplicity and ease of use reflects Yale’s aesthetic, although she complained that there was no direct link to the Athletics Department’s Web site.