The new website of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU), which went online on Tuesday, is characterized by a modern look, state-of-the-art features and a diverse range of functions that are tailored to the needs of its users. "The work on the new homepage was a joint project of the entire University. It established an important bridge that connects the University to its external environment and also ensures that its internal communication network is firmly built on a new, stable foundation. I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the successful launch in the past months despite the difficult conditions", says KU President Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gien.
Compared to the previous homepage, the new webste now automatically adapts to the screen size of the devices from which it is accessed. More than half of the website visitors now access the KU website via mobile devices – and the trend is on the increase. Therefore, the look and structure of the new site is optimized for use on smartphones and tablets. In addition, the new pages come with a completely new design makeover: large pictures, striking elements and yet enough space are characteristic of the new look. "We have deliberately chosen a design that users are already familiar with from their daily life through mobile applications," explains Matthias Wiedmann from the KU Department of Communication and Marketing. Together with Dr. Bernward Tewes, deputy head of the Computer Center, he coordinated the design and implementation process of the new homepage. The user navigation was also revised; the main menu is based on the system of a transport schedule that provides clear orientation patterns. In addition, users can access content on sub-pages via picture tiles. Last but not least, the search function was redesigned completely so that especially first-time visitors find their bearings and the desired content quickly and easily.
"Right from the start, the participatory idea was important: All employees and also students should have the opportunity to express their requirements and wishes", emphasizes Dr. Christian Klenk, Head of hte University's Communications Department. For this reason, the conceptualization process started in the 2019 summer semester with a so-called "World Café", where about 100 interested University members from different areas of the institution contributed their thoughts and wishes for a new homepage. The ideas were then sorted and prioritized in subsequent workshops. All results were pooled for the development of a concept for a modern website, that meets all requirements of different target groups, that is flexible and easy to use for editors, and is stable and sustainable in the long-term.
The actual implementation began last winter semester. For the implementation phase of the project, that was effected together with the agency "Pluswerk", the KU chose the so-called "Scrum procedure", which offers ample leeway for reacting to unplanned and unforeseen events and adjust the process along the way despite a binding schedule. While this procedure might seem unusual at first sight, it was ultimately the perfect concept for the project. Employees were able to contribute further ideas and suggestions at any time during the course of implementation and closely follow the course of the project. The flexible approach was also ideal for the ambitious timeframe: the original objective was to present the new website at the start of the anniversary events at the beginning of July this year. Correspondingly, employee training sessions began as early as March - just two months after the first development steps had been taken. Then, corona hit. "Instead of offering face-to-face training, we had to change to online training videos and provided a digital handbook; on-site meetings were replaced by video conferences," explains Dr. Bernward Tewes from the KU Computer Center. More than 200 editors, who manage about 8,000 pages of the KU chairs and facilities in the background, also had to work under more difficult conditions due to Corona pandemic. Working on the new internet presence turned out to be even more complex than anticipated.
After an intensive development and implementation phase of only one and a half years, the KU now proudly presents its new website and invites you to re-discover your University in its new guise. Of course, the website relaunch team is now eagerly awaiting feedback from the users: How do they navigate around the new site, do they find their bearings, where is still room for improvement? There will also be further developments and adjustments to the website in future, because unlike print products, the work on an internet website is never finished.