A closer look at SMU’s new-look, mobile-friendly homepage design


This article is an updated version of the original posted on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

SMU homepage refresh, first screen, 400 pixels
A sample first screen previews the new SMU homepage. Click the image for a larger one that shows the full updated look.

SMU has introduced a new version of its homepage designed to be as useful as possible for audiences who are unfamiliar with SMU, including prospective students. The new-look site went live on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.

The more mobile-friendly design features enhanced use of photography and videos, with a smaller and more focused selection of top-page links designed to help users find relevant information more easily.

In addition, the updated site has a new template that will make it easier for schools and units to use a similar look for their own websites in the future.

Beneath the main navigation, a full-width rotator will present a few themes that introduce some key strengths of the University – and use large photography to draw visitors into important sections of the website. The new design also makes it possible to use video in the future, as is currently done on the Undergraduate Admission site. (As part of the development process, the offices of Information Technology and Public Affairs have created a new Sitecore template that in the future will enable the schools and units to do something similar on their sites.)

Photography and video are also featured prominently in the “News” and “Campus Events” sections of the page. Overall, the page presents far fewer pieces of content than the current design, reflecting the best practices in current web design and making it easier for new visitors to find information relevant to them.

The recently redesigned SMU News page remains the best destination for those interested in seeing all the most recent news about the University. Additional information relevant for faculty and staff will continue to be posted to the SMU Forum.

The new SMU homepage retains the same basic information architecture as the existing site, but the navigation has been greatly simplified. The search box at the top of the page is more prominent, since more website users – particularly current students, faculty and staff – use search as their primary way to find the content they seek. Visitors can also use the audience selection links at the top left corner of the page to quickly get to useful pages.

The Office of Public Affairs will measure the success of the new homepage by how well it and other key pages drive traffic to the Admission site, and by how well the new page reduces the bounce rate of visitors who come to the homepage but do not click to something else.