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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 1, 2003

UI Unveils Redesigned Web Homepage

The University of Iowa today, Monday, Dec. 1 unveiled a new web homepage that loads faster, provides more up-to-the-minute news and events information and makes it easier for visitors to navigate through the more than 5 million web pages currently hosted on UI servers.

The homepage, located at http://www.uiowa.edu, replaces a site whose structure and design dated to 1997, when there were only about 400,000 pages within the UI domain.

"Web technology has changed dramatically in six years, and the number and variety of university web pages has grown exponentially," said Steve Parrott, director of University Relations. "This was a good motivation for updating both the look and functionality of our site. The university homepage provides many people with their first impression of the University of Iowa. We want that impression to be a good one, and I think we've pulled that off with this next-generation homepage."

The new homepage, as well as the redesign of a number of second-level web pages, is the culmination of a year's work spearheaded by UI Webmaster Josh Kaine and a six-person project team. The team included Ann Freerks, a designer with University Relations Publications; Linzee Kull McCray, assistant director of University Relations Publications; Wendy Brown of University Relations; Charlie Drum, director of campus communications in University Relations; Dave Pedersen, assistant director of Health Science Relations; and Stephen Pradarelli, assistant director of University News Services.

In the weeks leading up to today's launch of the site the project group consulted with faculty, administrators, staff and students across the UI community, many of whom provided extremely helpful feedback and suggestions.

Among the larger challenges put before the team was making the UI homepage more visually compelling, giving it greater currency by including more news and events, reorganizing links to reflect organizational changes at the UI as well as site visitors' needs and preferences, and building greater flexibility into the design so significant content changes can be made as needed.

The importance of this latter feature became evident over the past couple of years when significant breaking news (such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) coincided with major administrative news (the searches for a new president and provost, for instance, and the launch of a new capital campaign). Under the previous design, which was envisioned when the web was still in relative infancy, it sometimes proved difficult to fit more than a couple new items on the homepage at a time.

Highlights of the redesign include:

* A new graphic design that incorporates a background image that will change quarterly during the first year, and possibly more often in the future.
* An expanded news and events teaser box that will typically feature up to four headlines and a photo that will be updated daily, Monday through Friday.
* A dynamic drop-down menu that features almost 60 more links than the previous version of the homepage.
* The addition of links to secondary web pages with information specifically for visitors and parents, as well as details about the UI and expanded contact information.
* The renaming of a number of links so they are more easily identified and better reflect the contents of the pages to which the links lead.
* The redesign of several second- and third-level pages, all with a new graphic identity and reorganized links.
* The overall reorganization of information within the entire UI site, which takes into account past and future growth of the university's web presence as well as changes in the way people use the Web to find information.

The UI homepage project team is still seeking feedback on the new site. Anyone with comments or corrections to the new UI homepage or related web pages may send them to Josh Kaine at joshua-kaine@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu