Happy Summer Everyone! We have some important updates about our upcoming website upgrade for you, so please read carefully.
Responsive Design Launching In June
We are so excited to be launching a responsive version of our website in June. As you may recall, "responsive" means that the website is optimized for viewing on mobile devices as well as large screens. With mobile traffic to our website increasing 67% this year and our target audience using mobile devices as the primary mechanism to surf the web, the timing is right.
Here's what you need to know:
- Information architecture: We are updating the left-side navigation information architecture on a lot of sites to be more conducive to small screens. This means fewer top-level menu items with user-friendly labels and avoiding "polyhierarchy" (i.e. linking to the same page in multiple places). All affected site owners will be notified of these changes ahead of time.
- Accordion-style navigation: To make lower level pages more discoverable, we are moving to an accordion-style navigation. This means that users will be able to see a visual indicator that a top level menu item has children (if it does) and clicking on the header will expand the list. Any top-level page that is a type of page set to "Shows Children" will not be shown to the user via the navigation. It will be more of a container of other pages—replacing the current blue "section headers." (See example below under "Admissions New.")
- Bye bye banners: The banners below the left-side navigation will go away, because users don't click on them very often. There are several other options to drive visitors to important parts of your site, which we have outlined on the "Banners" section of our Style Guide. If you'd like help replacing a current banner, just hit reply and let us know.
- Landing page content: When users land on your homepage via a mobile device, they will not immediately see the navigation. Therefore, it is a good idea to review homepage text to make sure it is clear and concise, has the most important content first, and includes links to key pages. See the About page for an example. Just don't overdo the links... Keep them short and focused.
- Homepage features: The Reason CMS "Feature" type is now the only method for displaying images on an individual site homepage. The previous carousel slideshow and "Top Image" types have been removed. We are resizing all the features (1200 x 575 pixels) to work with the new design, so you don't have to worry about that. However, we might need your assistance with finding original images (already in progress).
- Top images: The "Top Image" type is being retired. Rather, if you wish to have an image at the top of a secondary page (not your homepage), Reason will now use the first attached image (based on the pagetype). We will be reviewing all top images and replacing as appropriate. Top images should only be included if they are relevant to the mission of the page. If you see a missing top image after the launch, please let us know.
- Social icons: As part of this project, we have also extended the types of social accounts that can be added to the bar below the menu (again, see the "Admissions New" example below). In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, we now have YouTube, and newsletter signup. If you have social accounts that you'd like to add to your site, please let us know.
- Launch details: Our current plan is to lock down the current website database on Thursday, June 19 and begin the launch process. During the launch window, you will not be able to make any content changes, so please plan accordingly. Once we have the new website ready to go, we will "flip the switch" to the new site. At that time, we will send you a launch announcement and ask you to review your websites to make sure everything looks OK (we understand that not everybody will be available, but if you are, we appreciate your help!). Our backup date for the launch is the following week (starting 6/26/14)—if we run into any snags.
Sneak Peek (please ignore images and text)
As you can imagine, this is quite the undertaking. We appreciate your patience as we work with you to update your information architecture, features, and banners. As always, feel free to contact anybody on the Web Content team with questions.