New uOttawa.ca breaks mold for university websites

Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The University of Ottawa is proud to launch a stunning new website that will help deliver on its commitment to an unparalleled student experience.  The site signals a move away from the traditional university website model to one designed around how today's students use the web.

“Our commitment to uOttawa students is to continually improve the university experience, on campus and online.  This new website is a major step forward,” said Allan Rock, president and vice-chancellor. “We want the student experience to be rewarding from the very first click.”

Built for students

“Our new mobile and tablet friendly website is designed specifically to get students and prospective students to the information they need quickly. It is simpler, cleaner and more intuitive,” said Drew Anderson, Executive Director, Communications. As part of the redesign exercise, uOttawa enlisted more than 5,000 students through various consultations.

Among the changes, a “top-task bar” lets web visitors find courses, calculate costs and search the library — all without leaving the home page. The website also boasts a more intuitive search engine, facilitating one of the key tasks performed by visitors. The revamped “Students” page is also now the gateway for all key tools for students, including the Google apps used across campus.

Mobile friendly

The uOttawa website, the busiest “doorway” to the campus, gets more than 4.6 million clicks per month, totalling 51.5 million visits per year. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of these — nearly 7 million since January — are now via mobile devices. It was therefore crucial to make changes to allow visitors to easily navigate the site on any device.

Open source by nature

The University identified a need to improve the back-end of the website and create coding for a unique English/French parallel content management system (CMS) for its bilingual community. This innovative feature, created by uOttawa's web developers, is already piquing the interest of Canadian and international web developers in bilingual or multilingual organizations.

Used by an increasing number of higher-education institutions across North America, the system uOttawa has expanded on, Drupal, features an open-source framework. This means that code created elsewhere can be taken and adapted to our needs.

Showcasing uOttawa's beautiful campus

The top pages of the new site feature sweeping background scenes of life at uOttawa.ca.  “Increasingly, uOttawa.ca is the first point of contact between a future or current student and the University,” said Anderson.  “We want visitors to find the information they came for, but we also want them to get a real sense of the immense beauty and vibrancy of our campus life.”

While this is the most significant redesign of uOttawa.ca since the original launch in 1997, it is just the beginning. Over the coming years, all webpages hosted on the site will be migrating to the Drupal platform and the new design. “We will listen to our users, particularly students, and we will continue to improve,” said Anderson.

INFORMATION:

Kina Leclair
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 2529
Cell: 613-762-2908
kleclair@uOttawa.ca

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