Web Redesign Focuses on Character, Clarity

January 12, 2009

Did you notice something different about the Mary Baldwin University Web site on your way to this article? Maybe it was the striking photo on the college’s home page, or the simplified navigation that grabbed your attention first. Whether you are a new or returning visitor to the Mary Baldwin Web site, you are now exploring our Web site during a full-scale redesign. Many in the Mary Baldwin community helped create it.

“My hope is that visitors recognize our mission from their first moments on the site,” said Crista Cabe, associate vice president for communication, marketing, and public affairs. “The goal is to show Mary Baldwin’s character as well as make it easy to find your way around.”

Changes in this phase of the redesign include those propelled by the momentum of students, faculty, staff, and friends of the college, such as the presence of “Boldly Baldwin” — the rallying call that resonates on campus and off. Others are directly related to questions about usability that the college community answered in the fall. A new navigation bar at the top of all pages and the option to print pages with text only are a few of these. Still others are the result of pioneering Admissions efforts that now offer each incoming student a gateway through which to focus his or her college experience.

A contrast between the former site created in 2006 and new one launched January 12You will see continuing changes on the Web site in the coming months. The college is working toward unveiling a comprehensive redesign in August 2009, a project that was last completed nearly five years ago.

The visual transition is marked. Gretchen Newman, director of design, describes it as “letting the message come through the photos” by simplifying other elements. The bold color palette introduced in fall 2006 is still there, but in smaller doses, and visitors are greeted by a more natural effect.

“The college has done an excellent job in the past few months of articulating what makes us distinctive and compelling. What Mary Baldwin has done well for decades and will continue to do well through the new students it attracts is educate confident, compassionate changemakers. We needed to convey that on our Web site,” Cabe said.

What you see now is not the final product, but an interim step. The Web site is quickly becoming outsiders’ first impression of the college. These changes and those to be implemented by August 2009 ensure people know what Mary Baldwin is all about.