Jesus College, University of Oxford

Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford. It combines academic excellence in teaching and research with an informal, vibrant, and supportive community.

Richard had designed and built the previous incarnation of the Jesus College website in 2009 and was delighted to take on the task of modernising the IA, UX and design as part of a three-person Agile Collective team.

Challenge

The immediate impetus for the refresh was moving the underlying system from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 in order to ensure the ongoing security of the site. Drupal 6 was due to become unsupported in late February 2016, so the clock was ticking... Meanwhile, the college wanted to update the feel of the site and make it responsive and without diverting too much time from the upgrade. 

Process

Although the key task was the upgrade of the site, we asked to meet with all key stakeholders, from the head of the college through to recently admitted undergraduates. This was in order to identify problems that they or their users had with the site and to see which improvements could be incorporated into the project. From this we created a backlog of issues which we discussed with the project owners on the client side. 

Running the upgrade on the CMS early in the project helped indentify that the Drupal 8 upgrade module worked excellently but also highlighted a few areas where we would need to replace defunct modules and deal with other anomalies. At the same time, we started the redesign by suggesting a new approach to the layout of the pages. This was an evolution rather than a revolution as we wanted to use as much as we could of the old site and so we re-empolyed the images that had been hand-picked for the old inside pages as supporting photos in the new site, whilst creating new banner images for key landing pages in the site.

We discussed the latest thinking on information architecture (IA) with the client and reduced the main menu items to four, each designed to speak to a major audience who were unfamiliar with the college. We created a new supporting menu for audiences who were already aware of the college and its work and exposed key pages on the homepage.

Outcome

We produced a highly efficient evolution of the site just before the lifespan of Drupal 6 expired. The site has received admiring comments from visitors and the client is very happy to have a site that shows them off to their best. In addition to the features mentioned above, we vastly improved the interface for content administrators, who are amongst the happiest with the upgrade.