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Julie Harpring

Mizzou Graduate School Office Redesign

I led the top-to-bottom redesign of the University of Missouri Office of the Graduate School website, creating a consistent visual identity, navigation that made sense to users, and content that gave current and prospective students vital information at the right time.

My Role

User research, information architecture, content editing, interface design, editorial style and markup guides, XHTML templates, CSS, usability evaluations

My Tools & Techniques

Interviews with prospective students, admission officers and Graduate Office staff; competition analysis; content inventory; in-house and potential-user card sorts; wireframes; grid design; vertical rhythm typography; standards-based XHTML & CSS; critique sessions with colleagues; usability evaluations with prospective students, current students, and university staff

Project Overview

Over the years, the website for the Office of the Graduate School at the University of Missouri had become bogged down in inconsistent branding, bureaucratic language, and an organizational structure that made it difficult for students and faculty to get vital information about application and degree requirements. I led the charge to refocus the website architecture, content, and interface design to more effectively meet the needs of our community, particularly prospective and current students.

Collaborators

  • Steven Richardson: worked with me on the in-house card sort, PHP, javascript, usability evaluations, XHTML & CSS maintenance post-redesign
  • Jane (Osterlind) Trueper: XHTML buildout, copy writing, image editing

Visit the Site

The Mizzou Office of the Graduate School website has not been redesigned but is being maintained by an entirely new staff since late Spring 2008.

Launch Date

September 2007

Redesigned home page of the Office of the Graduate School at the University of Missouri
Information Architecture Overhaul:
I used feedback from student and staff interviews, an in-house card sort based on my extensive content inventory of the old site, and analytics data to recategorize and relabel our organizational structure and navigation. The addition of audience-based navigation gives users another point of entry into the site. Important lower-level pages are also listed in the old-school-Yahoo!-style section in the middle of the home page, which current students particularly appreciated.
A sample of a page from the website with the underlying horizontal grid exposed
Following Design Principles for a Better User Experience:
I used a horizontal grid (shown above, underneath a page from the site) as well as a consistent baseline grid in the mockup phase, and then I followed them with pixel-precision in the finalized CSS. My use of a grid and larger-than-average sized type made for a more pleasing reading experience and a sense of visual balance after the redesign.