Custom Web Design in Large Organizations
A University website isnâ€™t really a single website. Itâ€™s actually made up of many sites: Human Resources. Office of the President. Department of Zebra Fish Studies.
So the question is this: how important is it for these websites to be look the same?
This recently became a topic on several forums and in our office. On EduStyle and other sites, people commented about how our Department of Film, Television, and Theatre didnâ€™t look anything like our other sites â€“ or even a Notre Dame website. After kicking these ideas around for a few weeks, I figured Iâ€™d jot down a few observations here.
- Individual units have different communications goals
- Design standards and technologies evolve
- Custom tailored to different audiencesâ€™ needs
- Brand consistency and unity
- Easier maintenance
- Less design/development time
- People tend to think of them all as part of the ND.edu website
Someone proposed a compromise. Administrative offices would get a standard design, intended to be functional and carry the University brand. Academic units â€“ colleges, departments, institutes, and centers â€“ would be offered custom designs. However, there should still be some consistency in brand locations, navigation, etc. As users adapt to the website theyâ€™re on, moving to another ND site shouldnâ€™t be totally disruptive. They shouldnâ€™t need to learn a new interface and struggle to find the information they need.
Iâ€™ve always been a proponent of custom design, but I can see the value of such a compromise. It would let our small group focus on more of the brand-critical, high visibility websites.