Duke University Launches Home Page Designed by Viget Labs
Duke University launched its redesigned home page today at http://duke.edu. Viget Labs worked with Duke's Office of News and Communications and Duke Web Services for the past six months to design the new home page and its secondary Spotlight pages.
The new design illustrates nine themes of the university, each of which is featured in a rotating carousel on the home page and is further highlighted on its own media-rich Spotlight page. Vivid photography is used to convey the atmosphere on Duke's campus, its notable architecture, and its place in the broader Durham community.
In addition to sharing stories and giving visitors a sense of place, Viget met a more technical design challenge with the Duke.edu redesign. The university sought to "define and promote a clearer visual identity for the institution," while still allowing schools and organizations under the Duke University umbrella to be creative with their individual web site designs.
Viget's solution to this problem was a "brand bar," an unobtrusive header than can be added above the content and navigation on any Duke site to provide brand consistency. In its default state, it's a small strip of Duke blue with the university's logo and a single link.
Clicking the link expands the brand bar to display links to other Duke schools and institutes, as well as tools, resources, and the same navigation links provided on the main university home page.
The Duke Web Services team seamlessly integrated Viget's front-end buildout with the Drupal content management system. Working with the Duke team on this project was a great experience in designing for a .edu site. They entertained innovative ideas and experimented with new design solutions, yet maintained the integrity of their established brand identity. During the design process, they welcomed feedback from the university community on a blog dedicated to the redesign project to ensure the design would serve their target audiences.
Viget Labs hopes to share with the web design community some of the knowledge we gained about designing for .edu sites. With a little luck, the Viget team may have the opportunity to go head-to-head with the design team behind the forthcoming UNC site redesign on a proposed SXSW panel, South By March Madness: Designing for .EDU.