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WU website updated for simplicity, user-friendliness

| Contributing Reporter

In an effort to freshen and modernize the user interface, Washington University launched its newly redesigned website on Monday.

Vice chancellor for public affairs Jill Friedman told Student Life that the new website is meant to achieve an intuitive, user-friendly experience that repositions the focus toward the people.

While this change was intended to reflect Wash. U.’s achievements in both science and art, the shift came as a surprise to many students. However, many said they felt the updated website was a good step for the University.

The new homepage highlights the improved features of the site and explains the increased accessibility of the new website.

“Our charge: create a new front door to our online environment — one that projects a fresh, modern look that better communicates who we are and our strengths as a leading research institution,” the new website reads.

Freshman Jordan Weinstock noted that the revamped website would likely influence students’ perception of Wash. U. and their decision to join Wash. U.

“I mean, if there was a school whose website was too confusing to me to figure out what their requirements were, what they liked in students…I would pretty much not apply there if I couldn’t figure out within ten minutes,” Weinstock said.

Freshman Cameron Wen also appreciated the changes.

“When I first got into Wash. U., I went to the Wash. U. website, and I was like, ‘really?’ There was a lot of text and not a lot of pretty pictures, and the buttons were boring, and I thought come on, well this is a world class university. And now I look at it and I think, ‘oh, it’s all pretty-looking,’” Wen said.

For freshman Morgan Anker, the update sounded particularly helpful for her younger sister, who is currently in the process of applying to colleges. Acknowledging that researching colleges through their websites is crucial, she feels that it is frustrating if the website is not easy to navigate.

Freshman George Gathiani, who studies communication design and computer science, strongly believes that the new design was much needed. Gathiani said that he appreciated the aesthetics, smooth interface and quick loading time on both mobile and web.

“The previous one looked more like an HTML page from a front-end website,” Gathani said.

Sophomore Raymond Bennett feels that the juxtaposition of moving pictures above and visual statistics below encompasses the dynamic culture of the University.

“It shows that Wash. U. really has an impact in more ways than one and shows the well-rounded nature of the University—that it has a really well-rounded campus—it really touches on a lot of different things and has a lot of different achievements,” Bennett said.

Some feel unsure about whether this change is a move in the right direction. Freshman Andrew Sweren found the change to be a bit too sudden.

Meanwhile, Jill Friedman, vice chancellor of public affairs, remained proud of the effort, especially considering the rapid timespan of completion (about 6 1/2 months), and the fact that the in-house analytics were performed at no cost. She remains hopeful about the future of the upgrade.

“It is a much more updated reflection of who we are and our unique strengths…with a much stronger personal and emotional connection with prospective students. The only goal was to create a more compelling user experience…We spent qualitative time studying statistics to improve what someone might experience when they come to the website. Now, we hope students are inspired along the way and get to see what a truly special place Wash. U. is,” Friedman said.

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