Santa Clara University


SCU's mission, vision and values

This SCU Communications toolkit explains information about Santa Clara University's mission, vision and values, including core attributes, key messages, and descriptors.

SCU Home page user testing

In June 2005, the university engaged the services of a usability testing specialist, uLab|Participatory Design Associates, to evaluate the SCU home page and top-tier pages with a number of audiences. These tests produced a vivid picture of the current site's usability barriers and information architecture faults. We are using the findings from the usability testing report as a primary focus of the redesign project.

Key usability issues in the current site are:

  • Information For and About site structure is not presented clearly
  • Ambiguous category labels
  • Global navigation options are not readily available at levels below the home page
  • Critical content in select menus on the home page are overlooked
  • Inconsistent or misleading search results
  • User experience lacks coherence at levels below the home page.

The redesign project will begin with a reconstruction of the site's information architecture, with the revised architecture informed by feedback from workshops, card-sorting exercises, and user testing.

The revised site architecture will provide a structural foundation for a new interface design. This new design will address the known usability barriers in the current site.

Survey sent to University Web publishers

Publishers (individuals institutionally responsible for content on their department Web site) were sent a survey to gain feedback on audience groups and tasks performed on department Web sites. Other feedback included recommendations for site structure and design.

University Web site best practices

Several University Web sites were analyzed to determine higher education best practices for the Web.

Top sites and pages on

The SCU Web site access logs have been analyzed to determine the top sites and pages accessed on in 2006. This list does not include results from Web sites that do not reside on the www server at SCU (e.g. santaclarabroncos).

University group meetings

SCU was divided in groups according to the Georgetown homepage model (About SCU, Learning and Teaching, Research and Scholarship, Campus and Community, Service and Administration). Campus constituents were asked to give their feedback and hopes for the Web site redesign. Several other University Web sites were reviewed to analyze best practices.

Category names were suggested for the SCU homepage:

  • About SCU
  • Academic Programs
  • Centers and Research
  • Community and Campus
  • Service and Administration
Card sort exercises

Several card sort exercises were conducted using the five groups listed above (About SCU, Academic Programs, Centers and Research, Community and Campus, Service and Administration). During the card sort exercise, participants were asked to categorize Web sites in common groups. Category labels were established for each group, then each Web site was prioritized in order of importance, according to the participants.

The card sort exercises, along with feedback from the University group meetings will establish an initial prototype of the revised site architecture.

Design parameters

The information we collect through Web analytics tools about how users currently access our site can tell us a lot about how the new site should be designed. Web design parameters (Excel) would include the user's browser and platform, monitor resolution, color depth, and availability (and version) of browser extensions such as Flash and Java.

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