UNK Web update: Photography key element in new UNK.edu design

Photo web collage 3By KELLY BARTLING
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Communications and Community Relations

Work is progressing on the new iteration of unk.edu, and we’re excited about some of the new ideas being implemented. As part of our exploration of other college and university websites, the committee (John La Duke, Dusty Newton, Jane Sheldon, Thane Webb) identified photography as the primary design element to engage site visitors and tell UNK’s story.

It’s also opportunistic that UNK’s new brand-focused campaign, “We are Difference Makers,” focuses on telling stories about the UNK difference through photos of vibrant, colorful and diverse students experiencing UNK in a variety of ways. Converging our messages in marketing and on the web is good strategy.

It’s obvious when you look at other websites that photography is the primary feature in design for the web. Large, screen-filling photos that are action-oriented, and strategic in the story they convey about the brand, dominate successful websites. Not only does UNK’s current web template restrict the use of photos as a primary design element, but photo documentation for news and marketing had not been an investment prior to 2013, so we had some work to do.

Beginning last fall, and more aggressively over the last six weeks, we have been building our photo resources to assure our new design has photo content available to be able to execute the design. Our new design, shown here, features not only large, dominant action photos on the home page and the new landing pages, but small imagery in the “buttons” and directional/clickable elements such as “Visit,” or “Apply,” or images that set the scene of a college, for instance.

Many of you have been working with our freelance photographer Corbey Dorsey, and our staff shooters Todd Gottula and Steph Gallaway and others on our Communications and Community Relations and Creative Services staffs, to identify “photo moments.” We have deployed our staff to numerous events and activities, and created special staged opportunities over recent weeks to capture new imagery to make the redesign successful. We thank you for your help with this, and want you to realize, this is only the beginning.

Having a process for evaluating and refreshing photos on a continuing basis is part of the short- and long-term plan for a successful website — and our news, marketing and other creative needs — and as we move through and past this project we will continue conversations with campus constituents to find ways to serve all our needs.

As you begin seeing the evolution of our new site I hope you will appreciate the investment in these photo resources and especially delight in seeing the energy and excitement expressed in our students’ faces, captured through our lenses, and featured prominently on our website.

Website update briefing for faculty, staff March 30

Staff and faculty interested in learning more about and discussing the progress of the campuswide website redesign project are welcome to a session 2-3:30 p.m. Monday, March 30, at Ockinga.

Leading the discussion will be UNK Webmaster Thane Webb and members of Chancellor Kristensen’s web redevelopment committee: Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor of Communications and Community Relations; Jane Sheldon, assistant vice chancellor of Business and Finance; John La Duke, dean of Natural and Social Sciences; and Dusty Newton, director of Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions.

In October the committee began a process to propose a redesign of the entire unk.edu website, and over the past few months work has been underway to complete the new design template, update existing and develop new content, and plan a transition from the old to the new template. The transition will occur in April and early May, with a target date for involvement on the new template in mid-May.

We will continue using Cascade as the website content management system, and most content should transition over to the new design. Content editors will want to be aware of issues in transition including photo-sizing, navigational elements that are not incorporated into the new design, issues with tags and ADA compliance.

Questions can be directed to Thane Webb at webbtm@unk.edu, or Kelly Bartling at bartlingkh@unk.edu.

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