These are the options presented to the College today for style directions for the redesigned Web site.
Here are the explanations of each concept given by the contractor.
Design one: Eclectic
This direction is based on a student’s dorm room wall/door. We call this “eclectic” because it is composed of elements drawn from various sources to tell the story of “who Wooster is.” This layout creates a visual aesthetic that is student-centric where the unique objects and elements tell the story of what it feels like to be at Wooster. While there is no “typical” student at Wooster, it begins to show the various levels of interests, activities and involvement of students at the college.
- Global & Tool Navigation is clear and easy to find
- Restrained, deliberate use of color that’s warm and inviting
- The dorm wall/door “Wooster Is” feature is built in Flash and invites the user to interact and explore but is not overwhelming.
- Keywords from Wooster’s messaging strategy are incorporated (as they are in all three concepts) into the objects for visual tie in and to evoke a sense of intellectual curiosity
Clicking on a minor keyword in the “Wooster Is” feature will reveal information relevant to that word and will link to that area on the site. There is also a prompt to add this to your “iWooster.” Minor keywords will change periodically, while major keywords stay the same although the imagery and objects can swap out on unique session. When mousing over major keyword, the items will activate and move, grow or shake. Clicking on a major keyword will cause the items to shuffle to the side and the feature presents all the associated links to that keyword.
Design two: Classic
This design is a walking tour of Wooster where the visual elements each tell a story.
- A bit more organic in feel
- Feature area is prominent, we’re answering the question of WHO IS WOOSTER? by showing rather than in telling
- A highly original view of campus, not meant to be an accurate depiction, and gives users a glimpse of the energy, diversity and sense of place
- Builds an authentic sense of community on campus, again, it’s all about the students and community
- Liberal use of branding colors but palette also reflect a warm and inclusive community
Clicking on a minor keyword in the “Wooster Is” Flash feature will reveal information relevant to that word and will turn from sketch to photo and ideally activate a video component. There is also a prompt to add this to your “iWooster.” Minor keywords will change periodically, while major keywords stay the same although the imagery and objects can swap out on unique session. When mousing over on a major keyword, the sketch turns to real photography and activates the video. A click will reveal the associated links.
Design three: Stylized
This design is bold, dramatic, stylized, less constrained, a completely unique and unconventional approach to concept. The concept was to take the “livelihood” of the campus, combined with architectural style and bring the two together in an illustrative interpretation of campus
- Daring, unique, and dynamic, bursting with creativity and activity
- It is important that the right balance of active design elements be juxtaposed by clean and calm presentation of content
- The dark color palette of the stylized campus it meant to act as the stage to the activity within the “Wooster Is” feature.
The imagery of the major keywords is meant to take center stage and tell it’s unique story. Clicking on a minor keyword in the “Wooster Is” Flash feature will reveal information relevant to that word. Minor keywords will change periodically, while major keywords stay the same. When mousing over on a major keyword, the silhouette is revealed. A click will reveal the associated links and imagery related to the keyword.
I’m going to talk about each and try to highlight what I see as the strengths and weaknesses.
The Eclectic design
Stregths: I think this design is visually interesting and captures what I remember of my time at Wooster. When I look at it I get a good vibe and I think students looking at Wooster will get that vibe as well. The desktop/cork board design is something I think students will get. The colors feel warm and inviting and serve to add more punch to the images.
Weaknesses: The text color in the navigation bars and header seems to blend in with the background color making the text hard to read. The branding statement seems to get lost on the page, but I do think the imagery reflects the message. The fact that the Wooster IS area is Flash may mean it is harder for us to maintain and update.
The Classic design
Strengths: This design clearly highlights the message, academic programs, news and events, and profile. The design is also very different from what one finds at other schools. It really represents the communal aspect of campus life, but it takes a while to see it.
Weaknesses: The image feels cartoonish and reminds me of Norman Rockwell. The cartoonish aspect has been a criticism of our current print materials. I do not think students will feel that this gives a good sense of what Wooster is like. The image as it stands also does not reflect any single place on campus, but is a montage of several places. It also is not featuring Kauke which many alums see as the symbol of Wooster. The nature of the image could make maintenance an issue if we want to update or change the image.
The Stylized design
Strengths: This design is clearly not like any other college Web site. It will be a memorable site and is very interesting visually.The design features Kauke and gives real pop to the major keyword areas when clicked.
Weaknesses: This design is clearly not like any other college Web site. The message is almost impossible to find and I don’t think the design communicates the message as well as the other two designs. I’m not sure the design will appeal to the type of student we have identified as a good fit for Wooster. I think alums will really find this site hard to see as their Wooster.
What do you think? Are there strengths I missed in any of the designs? Are there weaknesses I’ve overlooked? Keep in mind that these are directions and that specific elements of each design can be massaged and tweaked. We need to decide which concept best communicates who Wooster is and will be. The design firm gave us the following questions to think about as we look at each design and I encourage you to address them in your comments.
- Where does your eye land first on the page?
- What four or five words would you use to describe this page?
- What actions do you think you might take coming to the page?
- Does this feel like Wooster to you? Why or why not?
- Do you think you could find any information you are seeking from this page?
- Do the colors and images resonate with you? Why or why not?
- Do you think prospective students would respond to this design? Why or why not?
- Do you think alumni would respond to the design? Why or why not?