The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering got a makeover – albeit virtually – with the launch of its new and improved website design, integrating all departments and content areas into one user-friendly interface.
A project long in the making, the new website features a streamlined WordPress theme in “Mānoa green” and a consistent look and feel across the main pages as well as departmentally-run subpages for Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and Mechanical Engineering (ME). All pages now feature a consistent nameplate at top, reflective of the department and in accordance with university branding standards, and all link back to the main site for user convenience.
For many years, each departmental site was managed and designed wholly independently of the main site, leading to distinct web layouts, fonts, colors, and styles. The result was a patchwork web of pages that lacked a single look at feel, and led some page visitors to question if they were actually on the official school website.
One of Dean Brennon Morioka’s first goals with regards to branding was to reign in the disparate styles and adopt a single style across the web.
The ECE Department had a head start in their website refresh, as they had actually been planning and designing a new site for their department prior to the College’s site-wide streamlining effort. The Dean’s Office communications staff benefited from the many of hours of work put in by the ECE Department and their website subcommittee, ultimately adopting many features they had selected for their site, such as menu styles, image sliders, page layouts, and more, into the main site. Organizing this effort on behalf of ECE was June Akers, the department’s IT support staffer.
“I knew several years ago that we were due for an update to our website, but it can be difficult getting input from faculty who are consumed with their teaching and research duties,” said Akers. “Our website already had a good backend database that helped us to feature our research, but even that had gotten stale without good pruning and fresh input. I had a programming student start to work on taking the existing database to a new more modern presentation. Then as new faculty came on board, they became excited about helping revise the website so we could promote the research that would attract the quality graduate students that can help them pursue and expand their research interests.”
It was important to ECE, and the College as a whole, to have an end result that was fresh, modern, and responsive. But just as important was that the information on the website was easily accessible and navigation by users as simple as possible, not just for faculty and students but also to our industry partners and prospective students and parents. Said Akers: “The prevalent usage of mobile devices made it imperative that we make our websites adaptable to screen size, yet still easy to navigate on any platform. In departing from our design that had been around for over a decade, our faculty wanted to bring us closer to the form and style of the UH Mānoa site. It is also a good opportunity to pore over the entire site contents to refresh and revitalize content. We’ve added new branches of research in biomedical engineering and power and energy, and the new site allows us to more prominently feature those.”
And how does the College feel about it’s new page?
“I love our new minimalist aesthetic and unified design,” said Kim Perez Hults, Director of Marketing and Outreach at the College and one of the drivers of the project. “As a world-class college of engineering, it is critical that our website reflects the professionalism of the activities and research conducted within our physical walls – and I’m proud to say that’s now the case. I’m grateful to all of the individuals from our various academic departments to pull off this huge effort. There’s always much more work to a project like this than meets the eye.”
Akers is also pleased with the outcome, and the process it took to get there. “It’s refreshing to see the new site finally go live. It took a lot of wrangling of information and differences of opinion on inclusion and arrangement, but overall itʻs been a fun and rewarding process. The committee is energized to continue to review the site frequently to ensure it stays fresh and is meeting the needs of the department, students, and prospective students.”
Check out the site (and all of the department’s subpages) at www.eng.hawaii.edu.