Web Design: Using Data to Inform Design

Before and After images of the SMU Current Students page
Before (left) and after (right).

The SMU Current Students page recently received a facelift.  This page receives thousands of hits each week, making it one of the most popular pages on the University website. In this redesign, we used data to assess how students were using the page and inform the future user experience.

Because SMU uses Google Analytics to collect data about how web visitors interact our site, I was able to understand how students were using this page prior to making any changes.  Information related to academics and coursework accounted for the bulk of traffic, while information about campus life accounted for considerably less.

To improve the usefulness of the page, page was updated to feature academic information more prominently and consolidate many campus life links into broader categories.  Approximately half of the links were removed: if a link received less than 1.5% of total clicks on the page and contributed less than 5% of traffic to its referring site, it was eliminated.  A few exceptions remain, notably links relating to health and safety as well as services we are actively promoting.  The redesigned page also displays SMU’s frequently updated and highly visual Twitter feed to promote campus news and events more effectively.

The resulting page is cleaner and prioritizes top services while engaging students with campus happenings.

For more information about Google Analytics or web design services, contact the IT Help Desk.

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Beth Andresen

Associate Director, Web Development; Web Application Services Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies, International Association of Accessibility Professionals