Wednesday was a big day. The mobile version of our websites was more than two years in the making, and now users will have much more accessible sites to view on their mobile devices. Your sites are now easier to use and in the palms of students hands walking around campus. While the launch went well and the mobile version is 90% complete, there are a few items we are still tweaking. Here's what you probably noticed already and what you should to know about your new site:
Navigation is different
For mobile sites, main navigation is typically placed into what is called a hamburger menu. It's three lines, like a hamburger patty between two buns. Through user testing, we determined the placement and how the links within the menu would display. In fact, overwhelmingly the students we tested said that they liked having the site's navigation along with the tactical navigation links (Maps, A-Z, Current Students, etc.) in the hamburger drop down.
For secondary navigation (links that appear after you choose one from the first level of navigation), we did something different. Most mobile sites simply display another hamburger menu and expect the user to click again to view all of the links. We decided to have those links appear automatically, for better flow and to improve the user experience.
Tables aren't responsive... yet
Tables within a website are inherently not responsive, especially if they are nested (a table within a table). Right now, many of your tables don't display ideally on your mobile devices. Our web developer Ryan is working on a way to have the information in tables display vertically so that it's easier to view.
This means it is extremely important to build and label your tables properly, especially designating headings. Elizabeth will write more about this in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned.
So what's the fix in the meantime? Turn your phone horizontally. Most users will think to do so on their own if they can't view content immediately, but if you are still concerned, add a sentence above the table that says, "For best view on a mobile device, turn horizontally."
Some of your blocks aren't in the right order
Those of you who have blocks of information in Sidebar First (the left-hand column) will notice that those blocks appear before your secondary navigation. After trying numerous fixes this week on each site, Eric has explained that it's something he will have to adjust in the overall theme that all sites use. He's working on it, and the change will likely be updated on Wednesday the 25th. We'll keep you posted.
News is the first thing on your site
Yup. We warned you! Moving forward news will be the first thing users will see on your site. There's two reasons for that: 1. News should be updated frequently since it is the most dynamic information on your site. 2. News is where you tell your story and keep people in the loop.
It's important that you update your news weekly. Like we've said before, it doesn't have to be a press release, it can be anything from announcements, to reminders, to tips, or updates on students and faculty members activities.
We've also changed a setting so that news stories will disappear from your news feed (but not your site) after 90 days. Some of you hadn't posted a news story since 2013 and it was looking pretty sad.
If your news feed disappears completely, that just means that you haven't fed it in a while and it's pouting. Add a news story and it will appear again.
User testing was extensive and will be ongoing
The number of people and hours that went into testing the mobile sites is incredible. We worked diligently to ensure that all aspects of the sites worked and displayed as best as possible. We knew certain pieces wouldn't be perfect right off the bat (hello, tables), but we got it as close to perfect as we could for launch.
That being said, we still need your feedback. Let us know what you like and what you don't like. We're collecting all of your comments as data, and when certain items reach critical mass we will address them. We'll continue to conduct user testing and ask people for their opinions as long as the websites exist, so reach out to us with your thoughts too!
How can you share your feedback? Leave a comment here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To celebrate this momentous move forward in the University's web presence, I say we all do a little happy dance at our desks.