New HFC website improves content, design, usability

Release Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018

New HFC website improves content, design, usability

Screenshot of new home page prototype

The official HFC website is getting a facelift in mid-July. This is part of the Web Team's efforts -- and more broadly, the work of IT, Marketing, and Strategy & Information as a whole -- to provide better service, better experiences, and better customization that meets our web users' needs in relevant and timely ways.

“Technology is always evolving, always improving. Content, design, and user experience always need to be updated,” said Tori Hart, HFC Web Content and Design Manager, who’s spearheading this herculean task. “We need to upgrade resources to be current. We’re helping our users, and keeping pace with other colleges and universities, too.”

Students at the forefront

Most websites attempt to serve multiple audiences, and HFC is no exception. There's always been a sort of tug-of-war over the "internal" vs. "external" audience, and while this time-honored distinction might still have some value (but probably not), the bottom line is that the hfcc.edu website's core audience is our community of students: current students, future students, former students, guest students, graduated students.

The site's secondary audiences are our friends and partners -- community members, corporations and businesses, donors and supporters.

We love our faculty and staff -- have no fear! -- so our colleagues will still find many resources on the website -- including the daily Employee News section -- but you will also have ready access to the ever-improving HFC portal at my.hfcc.edu, which aggregates internal resources in a single location just for faculty and staff.

Why now?

One of the most important reasons for the website overhaul was to simplify options, according to Hart. The IT department performs user testing with students, and they have made it clear that the current HFC website is not easy to navigate, and resources have been hard to find. “We’ve been doing user testing with new and prospective students and members of the community. We have new people coming to HFC all the time. It is important for prospective students to easily find information and accomplish their goals on the website,” said Hart. As a Welcoming College, it's pretty important for us to have a welcoming website, too.

“Students found our homepage so overwhelming,” Hart said. “They have ‘choice paralysis,’ which means they have a hard time making a decision on how to use the website, because there are too many options.”

New home page prototype

Highlights of the upgrade

See numerical callouts on the prototype for each highlight.

  1. To avoid choice paralysis, the main menu on the homepage will be reduced from around 40 options to 5-10 options. This will allow people to get to the right areas without confusion.

  2. The redesign will also make applying to HFC more accessible. Prospective students will be able to find clear instructions and the answers they need throughout the enrollment process.

  3. The "Find Your Program at HFC" feature is a user-centered approach for students to find the program that best suits their needs, talents, and desires.

  4. The website will launch with Google search, which will improve search results and help guide users more efficiently to what they need.

  5. The site will be more visually appealing, with a user-driven story section at the top that will highlight College programs, news, activities, and inspirational content.

  6. The College will be able to highlight numerical distinctions via a new at-a-glance section of the home page.

  7. One big change across the site will be more featured success stories about HFC alumni, students, faculty, and staff who have found success and made a difference at HFC and beyond. These stories provide opportunities to showcase the College’s programs, campus life, and HFC’s extraordinary students.

  8. The page footer will be streamlined and simplified for better usability.

As always, the new site will be built around accessibility and mobile usability, so it should work for any user on any (reasonably modern) device.

What's next?

The new website launch will take place at 8:00 a.m. on July 9, 2018. Due to some robust prototyping and simulations, the new site should be fully operational within 30 minutes.

The new website should help boost student enrollment and retention because program information, along with news stories, will be more visible. “It’s amazing how much is going on at HFC, these stories will definitely influence how new students and community members see the College,” Hart said.

Not every page throughout the site will be upgraded as part of the initial launch, because changes and upgrades will be ongoing for months (well, always, actually. Good websites never stop improving).

The facelift should reduce the volume of calls to the HFC Call Center. Prospective students will be able to easily find information about the College and its resources, register for classes, and make appointments on their own. The HFC website will work in tandem with the recently redesigned student portal and other upcoming services upgrades.

“Students will able to find much needed information – their class schedule, registration, etc. – with surprising ease,” said Hart.

Where do I find...?

For our current website users, we hope you'll find the new website easy to use, and if you spend just a few minutes to get used to the new navigation, you should find the pathways intuitive and the "search" feature robust.

If you were habituated to the current (soon to be previous) website and its endless dropdown menus, here are some guidelines for where to find the most-used items: login to the portal article about the new website and scroll down to the "Changes to menus" section.