Over the course of multiple interviews conducted with key stakeholders in June 2018, we identified some prevailing themes. We combined these insights with results of recent market research and with data collected from the current Homepage to form the basis of our homepage redesign project:
- No consensus exists currently about who the homepage(s) should serve.
No unit clearly identified the homepage as critical to their audience or to their communications activities. The homepage needs a clear strategy and institutional alignment to execute on that strategy.
- In its current iteration, the homepage doesn’t tell McGill’s story well.
The page looks “dated,” “static,” and “boring.” Analytics show that the most-used portion of the homepage is the Quicklinks menu. Several groups mentioned an overall lack of clarity in the McGill brand, and the homepage is symptomatic of this.
- The site as a whole underserves the graduate student population.
This assertion underscores the reality that navigating the policies and processes to become a graduate student is difficult, in and of itself. Some anecdotes also indicate that this lack of attention means graduate students feel undervalued.
- People turn to Google to find information on McGill’s site.
Both internal and external audiences have either learned or been trained not to use the site navigation or search function to locate the information they need. Users who don't know what terms to use (or who seek information spanning multiple sites) risk having a difficult experience.
- Delivering information by need rather than by office or structure is a big opportunity.
Adopting a user-focused philosophy is essential to creating a better experience for all of McGill’s audiences. Currently, our web system is oriented around who owns information, with the result that a user must navigate multiple sites in order to understand a single process.
- Current market research revealed two surprises: awareness and Montreal.
On the downside, McGill appears not to be as well-known outside of Quebec as stakeholders thought. On the upside, Montréal is a stronger selling point than previously imagined.
- Little alignment exists currently across units in terms of McGill’s narrative and vision.
Alumni and admissions, for example, present very different McGills to their audiences.
- Multiple projects in play provide possibilities for synergy and synchronicity … and many moving parts to manage.
We need better alignment on messaging, storytelling, and design, and the Bicentennial (among other projects) provides us with motivation and a "due date" for creating this alignment.
- Multiple units create content, but with little coordination or collaboration.
Units/faculties/schools/departments across the institution generate replicative stories and information. Fewer stories, done better, aligned to key themes, and maximized for reach and impact, would be a great evolution.
- UBC. UBC. Toute la journée et la nuit, UBC.
UBC was cited again and again as an example worth imitating. Although their brand is very different from ours, they represent an enviable level of branding consistency, a commitment to quality execution, and a dedication to continuous improvement in their web communications.