Last week VP: Union Affairs, Max Crawford, led an open consultation looking at the re-design of the Loughborough Students’ Union website. In attendance were members of the project team which includes the University’s Marketing Project Officer, Rachel Mackenzie.
After years of putting off website development, as LSU hoped to be a part of the ill-fated ‘Union Cloud’ / ‘NUS Digital’ project, Max has driven for substantial change with the website this year, arguing that a re-skin and further kicking the can down the road is not in LSU’s best interests.
Priority in the project has been given to breaking the cycle of non-use with the website. It is argued that the largest issue with the website is that staff and students alike will try use anything else before using the website. The Exec splash everything on social media (discussed in an upcoming article by Label), the events section is unusable by the majority of users and most news on the site is out of date.
In a poll conducted by Label with over 700 respondents, students and staff suggested the largest changes they would like to see made with the website were:
- A Mobile Device Friendly Website
- Simplifying the Menu
- Rebuilt Home Page
- Overall Design Change
- Clearer Events Section
With these changes in mind the team, working in conjunction with providers of the CRM called Membership Solutions Ltd (“MSL), who operate out of Warwick Students’ Union, outlined the following drivers for the redevelopment:
- Improve Usability
- Fully Responsive
- Look and Feel Modern
- Increase Engagement
Three design directions were outlined, and of these a middle ground was agreed on by all present at the meeting as well as the project team in the form of Option Two.
How will the new website be better than the current one?
A total redesign based on a responsive layout that will look and feel modern across all browsers. Pages will be uncluttered and content structure ordered around 7 new hubs:
The events section of the website will have a total overhaul. It will be sortable by days, nights, types of events and by date – user friendly across all devices. The current website focuses a lot on the nights offered by LSU and many students are missing the great number of alternative events on offer.
A store will become the central hub for all purchases, with availability driven by user grouping. If you’re a member of a hall, you’ll be able to pay for your hall subs at the same time as buying Platinum and grabbing that sick IMS hoody, rather than having to find it all on totally unrelated pages.
Social media will have further integration, much further than simply presenting Tweets on the main website. Content will be better shared. Linked with this will be an increased about of multi-media presence across the entire website – get ready for more photos and videos from your nights out, societies, spots clubs and welfare events, to name but a few.
Further updates to the Content Management System (the ‘back-end’ that Union staff and students involved with Societies etc. use to generate content) were perceived as beyond the scope of this project. The only saving grace is that the current, described as frustrating and inefficient compared with other more expensive systems, will have organised training courses for users to work around the largest issues. Will this work against the ethos of breaking the circle of non-use?
This is all well and good, but when will it become a reality?
The website is due to be rolled out over Easter 2016. If you didn’t manage to get to any of the consultations and have a view, why not comment below or tweet @LabelOnline.
TL;DR Check out a more detailed version of the design below: