We recently launched a new redesigned look for UCLA Happenings, which provides a single, highly visible location for UCLA event information. The old site was very busy and overloaded with visual information and color themes that never really translated to users. Images were heavily used and events were hard to find, making it difficult for people to use the site. Usability studies and heat maps showed us that categories created for the site such as Hot, Fresh, and 90 days out for events did not transcend well for most people, and that supplemental links were heavily used.
In redesigning the site, the goal was to make things simpler, cleaner and easier to use.
The Redesign Approach
The new redesign focuses more on the delivery of content (events). We wanted a way to keep the visual element intact, but take the lessons learned from the previous design. Here are some of the changes that were done:
- Images were used to complement the site, not overpower it, to create a more lively aesthetic.
- Tools were also implemented to help deliver content in a more structured manner. For example, the selector toolbar allows events to be displayed for today, tomorrow, 7 days, etc.
- Friendly URLs were also an important aspect of the clean design and architecture of the site. URLs for events are easily readable and make sense. For example, http://happenings.ucla.edu/sports/event/24119
- Side navigation sections were broken down into clearly organized categories.
- The site's framework was also designed to be very modular with the layout controlled entirely by CSS.
Listening to our Audience
We also wanted UCLA Happenings to be a continuing process of development and evolution. Many times sites roll out a new design and assume that they're finished. We started a blog and joined Twitter to create a channel for communication between us and our users. We hope these avenues will allow us to engage and listen to our audience, taking the comments and feedback we receive in helping to continually improve the site. The work is by no means finished, it's just the start of something new and exciting.