The Tale of the New Site

How do you develop a new website, meet users’ needs, and get them to buy into a new design?

This summer, the Yale School of Management launched a new website. Not only did we drastically change the look and feel of the website, we also chose a new URL. However, while the Communications and IT departments spearheaded the efforts, we definitely did not act alone. We solicited opinions from the Yale SOM community each step of the way. If you had a suggestion, we wanted to hear it.

When considering changing our domain name, we went to the Yale SOM community for input. Our old URL, mba.yale.edu, was limiting and didn’t speak to all our program offerings. We liked the idea of a new URL, but wanted to make sure the change would be supported. In a poll of several pre-selected options, there was a clear preference for som.yale.edu.

In early exploratory meetings with our stakeholders, we were careful to gather members from all areas of our community—students, staff, faculty, and alumni. This interaction between users meant that departments were able to hear the concerns and desires of different stakeholders, while voicing their needs as well.

By involving first-and second-year students, we assembled a group that could speak to the admissions process and improvements that could make researching our MBA programs and applying easier for prospective students. There were many lively discussions between stakeholders at these meetings, which in the end helped us organize a sitemap designed for our target audiences.

Since going online in July, we have continued to listen to members of our community and address suggestions and concerns they have about the new design. On the whole, the site has been favorably received.

How did you manage expectations and suggestions from stakeholders post-launch when you revamped your website or sections of your website?

Comments

We did a major overhaul in the Physics department. I kept much of the structure of the old page but used my best judgement on other things. Before the page went public I held a departmental meeting to introduce the new site to the department and invite comments. There was general acceptance of the redesign and a few items which I "fixed" and/or added to the new page. All-in-all it worked very well.

How far in advance of the site going public did you invite comments? Why do you think there was general acceptance: did you already have a clear sense of what the department wanted, or did you luck out?  :)  What if there had not been general acceptance of the redesign at that point?