2022 redesign of osu.edu

If you were asked to describe Ohio State to someone unfamiliar with it, where would you start?

Our amazing students and award-winning faculty?

Maybe the talented minds who discover research breakthroughs and innovations?

The Buckeyes across Ohio who serve and educate in their communities?

We have a pretty good marching band, too.

There are a number of things that make Ohio State special and relevant. Explaining these elements was something we embraced as we reimagined osu.edu. This week, we are launching an improved osu.edu, and we’re excited about how it can improve the effectiveness of how we convey the great things happening at Ohio State, and how they are particularly meaningful today. 

Our redesign process started two years ago with a deep evaluation of our current site that involved data analysis, interviews with site users and an assessment of site strengths and opportunities. That research later extended to including a review of 16 peer and brand websites and more internal and external audience interviews. These inputs helped shape our plan.

One point was abundantly clear upon concluding our research: we had an opportunity enhance the site in ways that give visitors a better view of what's happening now at Ohio State, and how it makes a difference. As I mentioned earlier, the website is a place for us to start to build awareness of Ohio State's relevance in society today. A more clean, concise and focused site can help achieve that goal.

To get to that goal, here are some of the specific changes we’ve made.

1 Improved search capability

Web traffic data at osu.edu indicates search is used heavily by most site visitors. We created a federated search that combines multiple search functionalities (Find People, maps, A-Z listings, etc.) into one. If you click the magnifying glass at the top right of the page, a search window will expand. Begin typing what you are looking for, whether it’s a person, a location or a major. If you are having a hard time finding something, the improved search can get you there faster. Osu.edu's improved search finds people, places and websites based on search words.

2 Reimagined audience index pages

Many of the audiences responded negatively to the approach we had taken to index pages on the site. These are audience and topic pages, such as current students, academics, future students and research that are featured in our main navigation. Those pages have been comprised of extensive link lists that break down web destinations to a very granular level. While intended to be useful, they weren’t. These pages usually had up to 75 links, but only three or four were being consistently used. We’ve moved away from these links in favor of an experience that can deliver a visitor more quickly to the information they need. A tip with these pages? They do a much better job of providing you the quick info you need. Considering setting the one most pertinent to you as your desktop computer home screen.

3 More visuals and storytelling

Our review of other websites told us pretty clearly that we were not using imagery or storytelling effectively enough to convey the important things happening at Ohio State. The redesigned site features more storytelling entry points and significantly more images that can give our visitors an immersive experience without stepping on campus.

4 Better mobile experience

As we built this new iteration of osu.edu, we did so with a mobile-first approach to design that elevates the mobile experience. Given that many users are experiencing our site through phones and tablets, we think those visitors are going to have a better and more engaging experience.

The redesigned webpage, including the Current Students webpage, offers a better mobile experience.

5 Some new pages

There are two new pages that are a part of osu.edu navigation. First, we’ve added an About page to our site. This page gives you a high-level look at all the things that make Ohio State relevant to the many communities it serves.

We also added a new content website to the site, Ohio State Impact. This new website gives us the opportunity to spotlight some of the other great work happening around Ohio State’s campus. We’re excited about the site and the chance it gives us to more effectively tell the story of our institution and its people.

So what's next?

Over the next few months we'll be listening to audience feedback and seeing how the site is working for those who visit. As we get a better understanding of what is effective and what isn't, we'll revise and adjust to ensure that we are meeting our audiences' wants and needs. 

Our team will engage in site testing and long-term road mapping to ensure we are keeping up as the environment changes around us. Ohio State is a dynamic university that needs a website to reflect that dynamism. With a reimagined web experience now a reality, we’re closer to our goal.

By Jay Hansen

Senior Director, Brand storytelling