Today we're launching a redesign of the UND.com site. This includes a complete redesign of the individual sport pages and a new standard content page. Some of the major changes to the site are addressed below.
This is the first in a series of steps we will be taking over the coming months to refine the online experience of Notre Dame Athletics.
What We've Addressed (So Far)
- Updated header with a more efficient use of space
- Simplified global navigation, prominent links to official social media channels and better-positioned search
- Simplified tool for getting video content quickly and easily
- A bigger, bolder and more prominent 'Feature Story' area with clearer, simpler thumbnail interaction
- Repositioned rotating graphic content that reinforces the visual dominance of the 'Feature Story'
- Redesigned 'Football Countdown' clock with prominent link to the football schedule, which is consistently among the most popular pages at UND.com
- New content layout that clarifies where users should look for certain kinds of content and allows for flexibility in overall content length
- Prominent position for social media content from official Twitter and Facebook profiles as well as a new blogging tool
- Interactive events tool that provides quick access to all Notre Dame Athletics events and the various channels with which users can access content related to these events
We felt the old header used too many pixels to present very little content. Our new header has been shortened. We're allowing the Notre Dame Monogram - one of the most recognizable symbols in all of sports - to do more of the branding work, which allows the words "Notre Dame" to be smaller.
Reducing the overall size of the site branding frees up the right side of the header for a new (at this point, experimental) way to get a quick, at-a-glance view of the athletic events on tap for the next couple of days. This is not the only way to interact with our events content. There a few ways to access our 'Events' content:
- The 'Schedule' link in the global navigation
- Sport-specific schedules on our 'Sport' subpages
- The "at-a-glance" 'Event' slider in the header
- The new interactive event slider at the bottom of the UND.com homepage and all 'Sport' index pages.
The large banner ad that was previously the highest element on the page has been moved into the right-hand side bar, below the new 'Video' area and re-sized to a standard sidebar ad shape. This allows us to free up the 'Tickets', 'Store', 'Auctions' and 'Support' links and position them in a "sticky" bar that remains fixed as the user scrolls the page. Any view of any page on the site now has quick access to these choices from any scroll point in the page.2. Simplified global navigation
The overall site architecture has been re-evaluated and resorted into a new, much more simplified group of global navigation items. The old site had two rows worth of global navigation with 16 different choices. The updated global navigation reduces this available choices to seven. The goal here is to get users to the content they are looking for with minimal confusion.
To aid in this, we've repositioned the 'Search' field (which has always been a part of the homepage design, though long-time users may have missed it). The search field uses Google's custom search technology to make all of the content of UND.com quickly available. Hopefully this provides users with a good navigation solution that will be made progressively better and prominent search as a fail-safe.
There is still a lot for us to learn about how users interact with this updated global navigation and refinements to this area will happen frequently as we move forward.3. Simplified tool for accessing video content
The old site design relied on a Flash element to get users from the home page to our video content. We have removed the old "thumbnail" video viewer from this section. Our 'Video Channel' page has a much larger viewing area for video content and provides easier access to other videos in one interface. We felt that the thumbnail viewer on the homepage distracted from getting users to the video channel.
As before, all video content "sorts" by sport. So when you visit, say, our 'Softball' page, you'll be presented with a list of 'Softball'-only video content.
Our vendor does not yet provide an HTML5 video tool, so our video channel content will not work on iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. We will address this at the earliest possible opportunity. In the mean time we are committed to populating our official YouTube channel with video content for our iOS users.4. Prominent 'Feature Story' area
The 'Feature Story, area has been made significantly larger and more prominent. In the old site design, the feature area competed for attention with a rotating graphic content element, and the general headline content was position in a different column.
The relationship between these elements has been re-thought, and everything has been repositioned to provide a clear hierarchy of content based on importance - feature stories at the top, followed by graphic rotation for special announcements, then headlines (which are discussed below).
The play/pause and skip controls have been removed from the feature story. The story will continue to rotate, but selecting another story is as simple as clicking one of the four thumbnail stories. Additionally, these thumbnails now have a clear title that gives users more information about the story content before making a selection.
We will continue to stream some of the more popular live events through this feature space as we have done in the past.5. Repositioned rotating graphic content
The rotating graphic element at the top of the old design was a valuable piece of real-estate for presenting different kinds of content then the feature stories. The old position of this element at the top of a content column distracted from the prominence of the more important feature story.
The option of presenting some content in a rotating graphic has been preserved, but the rotation has been repositioned below the feature story where it supports the most important content, rather than distract from it.6. Redesigned 'Football Countdown' clock
This doesn't represent a major change, as this element has always existed on the site. We're noting it here because the countdown clock will no feature the opponent logo and a redesigned interface and - perhaps more importantly - a permanent sidebar link to the 'Football Schedule' page which is consistently one of the most popular pages on the entire UND.com domain.7. New streamlined content layout
Very little of the content that was previously present on the old design has actually been removed. The new design reflects an easier means of interacting with that content.
The new layout features clearly labeled columns that allow the content the freedom to expand in length as needed. The previous design was much more modular, in the sense that everything was contained within boxy elements. We've moved away from that kind of layout in favor of columns. All headline content is now presented in the left column.8. Addition of social media content
Next to the 'Headlines' column is a column devoted to social media content, including spaces for interaction with the official Notre Dame Athletics Facebook page and the UND.com Twitter profile (@UND_com). Additionally, we are now using a new blogging platform powered by Moveable Type. Currently, the official Irish UNDerground blog through which you are reading this post will manage our blog content but there are plans are in the works to expand blogging in the coming months.9. New 'Events' interactive scrolling element
We've added CBS College Sport's powerful events element to the bottom of the UND.com home page as well as a sport-specific version on each 'Sport' home page. This element provides users to see all upcoming Notre Dame athletic events, as well as review the results of past events. It also draws together convenient links to our Watch Live options as well as GameTracker and other broadcast options as available.To make a long story short ...
We're proud of the work that's been accomplished to refine the user experience at UND.com but we have a long way to go before we are finished. Today's site refresh represents the first step in what will be a long process of consistent refinement. Thanks for your continued support of the site.- Tim O'Connor (@oaknd1)