Yale’s website just got a major face-lift.
For the first time in nine years, Yale University has launched a new design for “Yale.edu.” The updated site, which was conceived by Fastspot — a design agency headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland — was launched on Oct. 19 and features larger font, greater interactivity and spotlight stories on the home page. Andrea MacAdam, director of interactive media and strategy in Yale’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, noted that the last major redesign of Yale.edu happened in 2006. She said an update was necessary both aesthetically and practically, as the old website appeared very outdated and did not convey the institutional image that Yale wishes to project.
“We also wanted it to be appealing and useful to the many audiences who visit the site, including the current Yale community of students, faculty and staff, alumni and friends of the University and the public at large,” MacAdam said.
On Yale’s old website, the small text, fixed width layouts and clunky interactivity hindered the user’s experience and impression of Yale, according to Fastspot President Tracey Halvorsen. The website also did not transfer well to mobile platforms. Halvorsen added that her company wanted to make sure the new website represented the Yale identity. For example, in order to convey that Yale has been at the “forefront of exploration, innovation and creativity,” Fastspot made sure that stories about campus life took center stage on the new site, she said.
The new website has particular elements that contribute to Yale’s brand. Halvorsen said the branding criteria were explicit, such as the logo, the “Yale Blue” color and the font. Since Yale has such a highly regarded brand, Fastspot had little room to stray from Yale’s strict guidelines, she said, adding that the entire website was designed to mirror the prestige that many associate with Yale.
“For example, the site header feels spacious [with] lots of white space, and to some that may convey prestigiousness [or] confidence,” Halvorsen explained.
Other design considerations Fastspot prioritized included putting logos in the upper left-hand corner, due to Western reading patterns, and choosing color relationships that felt “accessible” to readers, she added. The code of the site also had to be improved, MacAdam said.
The site’s audience is large and includes alumni, current students and the general public. But MacAdam said one of the site’s most important audiences is prospective students. Maria Camila Bernal, an applicant to Yale’s class of 2020, said that Yale’s organized storytelling message came through in the new design.
“I really like the part toward the bottom that says ‘A closer look for the curious,’ since it lets you explore the different parts of the University,” Bernal said. That segment is designed to showcase various places, experiences and events on campus that might typically be more difficult to find from a home page.
While the new website has impressed prospective students, some current students still expressed complaints. For example, although the home page has been revamped, many other pages of the Yale site have not changed, including pages relevant to current students.
When asked about the website redesign, Linette Rivera ’19 said the pages she finds most useful have not improved.
“I guess I like it,” she said. “The stuff I really need — residential colleges, cultural centers, [room] reservation system — is in the old annoying format.”
Fastspot began work on the website redesign in 2014.