UWSP Website Receives Mobile Facelift

The UW-Stevens Point website (www.uwsp.edu) was updated this semester by web and media services students to increase its compatibility with mobile and tablet devices.
Senior web and digital media development major, Jack Blanke, was tasked with optimizing Sharepoint (a website management service) for non-computer devices when a new website template was found for the main page.
“It started off as just a research project, where Sharepoint as we had it wasn’t doing the best job on phones as we wanted. It became this new homepage, and then everyone else came in for this full effort to redo everything,” Blanke said.Blanke worked on the website along with senior web and digital media development majors Kaitlin Schuman and Will Ray.

“We placed a lot of importance on asking questions to students on what pages they visited most on mobile and what would be the most useful on a mobile site,” Schuman said.

The students used the input from their peers and were allowed to implement it as they saw fit.

“A lot of the people who make decisions on the website are people who don’t use the website or who aren’t sure of what students want, or they think they know what students want, but what we want is a little different,” Blanke said. “This was interesting for us because we had a lot of control and a lot of say.”

The rise in mobile phone usage was the primary catalyst for the changes to the website.

“It’s really exciting when people go to the mobile website and say, ‘Oh, it’s actually easy to navigate,’ and that’s most of the feedback we’ve gotten. Mobile browsing is a lot more frequently used,” Schuman said.

Along with the improvements to mobile browsing, a uniformity was added to the visual look of the website.

“We were interested in creating a new formalized design. All the new pages have that purple branding across the top now, and the banner has the same format along with the navigation on the side with a footer on the bottom,” Ray said.

“The point is so that you go to a university site and know that you’re on a UWSP website,” Schuman said.

Ray said that removing drop-down boxes which confused and annoyed users was another important change made.

“With this new design and its consistency, people know where to look for things on the website. It’s a lot clearer,” Ray said.

The web and media services students are actively working on updating pages to the new style and are developing more features for faculty sites. The students are open to any input on other aspects of the website users would like to see improved.

“I think it’s important for people to know that we welcome feedback. We always want to hear about it,” Schuman said.

Justin Sullivan

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