Kathryn Downing
Visual Design, UX Design, Creative Direction


Grand View University Information Architecture

For a course at Grand View, we were challenged by our instructor to improve the information architecture of Grand View’s website. At the time, there were multiple university websites — for admissions, academics, athletics. Each site had a different look and navigation scheme, which was confusing. The main site design was dated and there was very little visual interest to the content. Here’s the homepage:

Grand View University: Undergraduate & Masters Programs, Liberal Arts, Des Moines Iowa 2016-04-04 00-02-27.png

I was given a copy of the brand guidelines. Blue and the peachy-tan background color were not in keeping with the school’s red and black colors.

I started by researching college and university websites, evaluating what I thought was good visual design and information architecture. This I compiled into a summary presentation. I then indexed the content on all three Grand View websites and compiled it all into a spreadsheet. There were over 4000 unique pages! I found there were quite a few redundancies between the sites.

Proposed GVU Hompage Structure

I recommended consolidating separate GVU websites as much as possible. Most of the admissions content is of interest to multiple audiences and could be worked into main site architecture. For example, local residents and job seekers might be interested in learning about the facilities. All university websites could benefit from a consistent global header to allow users to navigate between sites and not get lost in the different UIs.

Primary Navigation (consistent across ALL sites):

  • About

    • Facts at a Glance

    • Our Campus & Des Moines

    • Strategic Planning

    • Offices & Services

    • History & Traditions

    • Media Coverage

    • Rankings & Recognition

    • Diversity

    • Safety

  • Admissions

    • How to Apply

    • Visit

    • Tuition, Aid & Scholarships

    • Admissions Team

    • Check your application status

    • Orientation

  • Academics

    • Departments & Programs

    • Core Curriculum & Courses

    • Honors Programs

    • Advising & Registration

    • International Programs

    • Internships

    • Featured Faculty

    • Academic Services

    • Academic Resources

  • Student Life

    • Campus Living

    • Student Activities

    • Student Ministry

    • Counseling, Health & Wellness

    • Career Center

    • Featured Students

    • Dining Services

    • Athletics

    • Sports

    • Conferences

    • Facilities

    • Coaches

    • Recreational

  • Community

    • Involvement Opportunities

    • Connect with Students

    • Post Jobs/Internships

    • Cross Enrollment

    • Concerts, Exhibits & Events

    • Grand View Experts

    • Study Abroad for Community Members

    • Camps, Clinics, Workshops

    • Memorial Gardens

    • Meeting Facilities

    • Live

    • Learn

    • Work

    • Play

    • For Our Neighbors

Homepage content areas:

  • Recent News

  • Upcoming of Events

  • Testimonials

  • Featured student/faculty member

Navigation by target audience:

  • Prospective Students

    • Incoming Freshmen

    • Transfer Students

    • Graduate Students

    • International Students

    • Military/Veteran Students

    • Continuing Education Students

  • Current Students

  • Parents & Family

  • Faculty & Staff

  • Alumni

  • Community

Less prominent persistent navigation:

  • Directory

  • Calendar

  • Giving

  • Visit

  • Search

  • Contact Us

  • Social Media sites

  • Employment opportunities

  • MyView

  • Webmail

Homepage Redesign

After working out the navigational structure, I created a new design for the homepage to bring it to life. I chose to stick with the school’s black and red colors, and added in a gold accent color from the brand guidelines. Rather than having all the link text red, I used red and gold to draw the eye to key elements on the page. The increased use of black helped the site not look too similar to Iowa State University, which has cardinal and gold as it’s school colors. I built an interactive prototype using InVision to show how the interactive elements in the navigation would work.

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 5.30.20 PM.png

Learning Processing

For this same course, we had to learn Processing and incorporate it into the page design. We had several assignments to learn Processing script and were provided a few examples of its application in design. I thought it was an interesting thing to learn, but as an experienced web designer, I didn’t think it was a skill most designers would find practical. I used it to animate the red fact box, swapping out the facts with a subtle animation.