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Charisma or camel? A sociotechnical approach to Web redesign Dave Murie University of Dundee.

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Presentation on theme: "Charisma or camel? A sociotechnical approach to Web redesign Dave Murie University of Dundee."— Presentation transcript:

1 Charisma or camel? A sociotechnical approach to Web redesign Dave Murie University of Dundee

2 The problem Evolution Devolution Revolution

3 The Dundee history n Web pages started by Librarian; some liaison with IT Services n Later transferred to IT Services UNIX operation n About 10 departments had home pages by 1995 n Already a Web-support list

4 But n No one taking overall ownership of information n Library? n IT Services? n Admin. function? n No overall look and feel n Some gripes

5 Yet n Not all gloom n Sep/Oct 96 issue of Netuser identified Dundee as "one of the best university sites" n Partly because of varied skills of original protagonists (librarian + psychologist) n Avoid losing baby with bath water

6 Electronic Publishing Editorial Board (EPEB) n Formed 1995 n Reports to University’s Information Services Committee (ISC) n Reasonably high profile committee

7 Stakeholder approach n Includes Director IT Services, Librarian, 2 Deputy Secretaries, Information Officer, 2 senior managers IT Services n Later expanded to include academic reps (including HCI interests) and Head of School of Design n Also legal specialists from Research & Innovation

8 EPEB mission n Look at extent to which University could have consistent & unified CWIS policy

9 EPEB agenda (self-initiated) n Aesthetic guidance n Distributed responsibility n Code of practice for webmasters n Meet legal & ethical obligations n Aim for protection, not censorship n Retain control of info obtained via dundee.ac.uk domain

10 Initial recommendations n EPEB report to ISC n Need disclaimer on overall home page to indicate limits of institutional responsibility n Seek legal advice on liability n Prepare guidelines and encourage/enforce compliance n Current “home page” too long

11 Initial conclusions n Distributed responsibility n Need to establish quality of service & identify interested people n Current home page too long n Need key guidelines to producing a “good” home page, on one or two common browsers n Kill Gopher

12 Agreed model n WWW to be platform n IT Services responsible for service infrastructure n Info providers responsible for authoring & production n Home pages to be under control of EPEB n Current “home page” too long

13 Function One of life's eternal triangles ”Techies” Users (consumers & providers) “Designers” Technology Help! Aesthetics Needs

14 Strategy n 2 subcommittees n Code of Practice n Web design n EPEB to have own list n Recently merged School of Design employed to redesign Web n Funding from SHEFC

15 Goal alignment n Design team not experienced in Web technology n Computer Science: interests in disabled n Postgraduate student project to focus on restructuring n 4 teams of 4 students n 2-way flow ensured HCI needs kept in mind & designs subject to test

16 Identified user groups n Potential students, business users, local users (staff/current students), academic users from other sites n Need to cater for physically challenged

17 Stakeholders Service DeptsAcademic Depts Staff Students Prospective students Research organisations Press/media Dundee Web

18 Students’ verdict n Present site confused n Look for ease of learning, ease of use, increase of speed to achieve task n Major challenge to create structure reader can navigate without getting lost n Hierarchy not too deep nor shallow

19 EPEB verdict n Too much info in cramped layout n Initial page needs splitting n 2 separate needs: intra- and inter- organisational n Quality of visual image of “lower standard” than many other universities n Important for increasing trend in student recruitment

20 EPEB verdict n More prominence to Dept pages n Load quickly n Some “quick fix” temporary redesign by IT Services n Media Services also volunteered some sample redesigns

21 Quick fix response n Faster logo n More consistent style n Heading format which departments could optionally copy n Offer of help from School of Design (recently merged with art college) n Village approach -- good ideas at conceptual & design levels available within University

22 User tests n Old system inadequate n Cluttered with information so not easy to use n Needs clearer general layout n More logical title grouping n Masses of links difficult to track n Intimidating to new user

23 Goals identified n Showcase departments & courses n Communicate University mission n Publish corporate communications (e.g.. press releases) n Recruit new students

24 Addressing needs n Academic system users: best highly graphic design n Those with slower links will not like high graphic content n Disabled: learning disabled prefer graphics to text but blind can only use text

25 Design brief n Appeal to wide range of target audiences (internal & external) n Offer easy navigation with distinctive & innovative look n Reflect University’s desired image

26 What happened next n Design School showed samples of existing Web-based work n Very “designed”. Worries about practicability of downloading n Project set up & promised several options

27 Design approach n Cater for universal audience n For identity, only universal thing is heraldic element n 3D button, animation n Coloured backgrounds: a laid paper n 8-tier kind of menu n Lozenge lines of buttons

28 But n Not dynamic, so looked at existing stock of library photographs n For faculty home pages & secretariat n Provide a library for depts who want to improve their home pages to fit, but not mandatory n Debate about accessibility n Plea for some testing

29 Iterative design Design School EPEB Applied Computing (Postgraduate teams) Web Administrators

30 Deliverables n New designs develop through 3 layer structure becoming simpler at the lower levels n Faster downloads n Break down visual elements for easier construction of sites around campus

31 Tests n Solves problems with older structure n Information clearer n More organised n New user learns more easily how site structured n Similarity to other University Web sites

32 Later refinements n Design refined for effective display on range of browsers n Too graphic for non-Janet usability & for blind students n Plan text-only version of main pages n Add Web search n Increase size of navigation buttons

33 Controversies n Paper backgrounds n Mac did not translate well to PC (Netscape Navigator defaults to 216colour palette) n Fast download for all browsers n Camel avoidance! n Web administrators a great help. Tightly focused issue, able to experiment, no camels!

34 + points n Use of multiple stakeholders n HCI, techies, design specialists, users, departmental webmasters n Supply of tool-kit (page generator, buttons, lozenges etc..) n Good compromise of capability with practicability

35 - points n Many sites have yet to take their disabled visitors fully into account & the proposed design is no exception n Did need to hold back some individuals from latest Javascript functions -- problems with earlier browsers n Moving globe: Quicktime n Frustrating medium for designers!

36 n Redesign an extensive exercise n Requires stakeholder approach n Beware technology-led n Beware designer-led n User needs constantly in mind n Communication critically important Summary


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