It’s been a little less than 3 weeks since we launched, and feedback regarding the new site design has slowly died down as people settled in.
We’ve had some very committed web developers out there who gave great pointers on what they liked and what they thought could be improved:
We had a few of their suggestions implemented almost immediately.
- Choonkeat’s suggestion to use an icon of a lock, rather than the words (login required) beside intranet links in the dropdown menu under “Teachers”.
- Choonkeat’s request for rss/atom (implemented in Media Centre).
- Vinay’s suggestion for custom 404 error pages.
- Vinay’s suggestion to make the masthead narrower (we made the skip navigation link a little less visually obtrusive)
- Vinay’s observation that feedback forms administered via iframe could lose the submit buttons on larger text sizes (we went back and set the height of the iframe in ems so it would scale)
The sliding navigation
The implementation of the navigation has a whole didn’t sit too well with the tech-savvy. Yuhui is absolutely correct when he points to the fact that the links being flushed left after dropdown meant users needed to move their mouse quite a distance. Quite a number of people commented that a fast trigger-happy index finger could drive the script crazy and break the navigation. Sliding down takes time, which sacrifices efficiency for flashiness.
All of these are great comments, and we’re definitely looking into ways we could improve the interactivity. We originally had the menu appear instantaneously when users click on the “Students” or “Teachers” link, and the feedback we had from some users back in beta was that they were disoriented. So we thought a little animation would guide them from pre-click state to post-click state.
Jekyll and Hyde Information Structure
Yuhui and Divya both commented that there was some disconnect in the breadcrumbs and the top navigation. When you clicked on something like “Student Admissions“, the breadcrumb would say “Home > Education System > Student Admissions” when in fact you came from clicking the “Parents” navigation.
When we first constructed the information structure, we created intuitive silos to store information. Silos like “Education System” and “Careers” were set up to store information which existed in any one silo at a time. However we also understood that our users were segregated into a few main roles, which you see on the top navigation. These different roles often need the same information. For example, both Parents and Students were probably interested in “Student Admissions”.
So rather than have crumbtrails denoting the users point of entry, we set the crumbtrails to introduce the formal information structure in a macro to micro sort of filter.
The greatest reward we received from revamping the entire site in-house was the freedom and degree of control we now have over the site. We can now react to feedback given by our users almost instantaneously. The previous iteration of the site was locked down in a gargantuan content-management system in a format readable only by the vendor. This made changes extremely hard to implement and we often had to shrug our shoulders when we couldn’t find workarounds.
So if you have any feedback regarding what could be improved, or even if you’d like to tell us that you really liked what we did, do feel free to drop a comment here.