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CoMAD

Drexel University's design college, the College of Media Arts & Design or CoMAD, has long been in need of a modern website to represent the excellent instruction that goes on everyday. Although I'm quite biased (being part of the Digital Media program), CoMAD is a nationally accredited school and well-respected in academic circles.

This project has been a dream for me. Just under a year ago, CoMAD approached local design firm Electronic Ink with the prospect of redesigning and rebuilding the site. The large team working on this project—designers Jon Aldinger, James Dunn, Adam Little, and Jaime Vásquez, with human factors analyst Greg Urban and technologist Tony Ballas—spent a lot of time researching the appropriate solutions for a site like this. Over the last year, a lot of work across many different disciplines have been done to make this site a success. Here are some of the standouts:

Usability Testing

The initial phases of research included student and parent surveys, a design and usability assessment, comparative analyses, and tests of the old site with users to see which areas could be improved. Based on this research, the information architecture was heavily revised, and we tested paper mockups of the initial redesign to see how users responded to the changes. Finally, the finished redesign was tested again for final quality assurance.

Consistency

Until this version of the site, each program and department had their own, unique look and feel. Although this helped to distinguish each section, it hurt the overall coherence of the college and created inconsistencies. One of our big thrusts was to create an identity that could stand alone, but still contributed to the idea of a uniform CoMAD.

Navigation

Because of the large amount of categories for users to navigate through, we decided that Flash was an appropriate solution. However, a lot of time was spent developing a functionality very similar to an application, as opposed to the stereotypical online "Skip Intro" gratuity. The technology is used to supplement the user experience, a seemingly lost art as far as Flash is concerned. The backend is driven by XML, which makes this nav very easy to update for those unfamiliar with the Flash authoring environment.

Creative Work

Another result of the initial research showed that student work was a major attraction for incoming students, but most university websites keep it relatively hidden. For the CoMAD site, we wanted to make that section unobtrusive, yet still remain prominent to those searching for it. This Flash module is also powered by XML, and, for those that are interested, it contains a full-screen feature to engage the work a little more closely.

All in all, the CoMAD site was a chance for everyone involved to flex their design, technical, and intellectual muscles. I proudly announce the new College of Media Arts & Design web site.

Comments

bearskinrug said:

It looks fantastic Dan. All the time and work paid off. You just might have convinced me to go back to school just to SEE CoMad...

Posted on August 16, 2005 06:14 AM

Snailface said:

Now that's what a school's site should look like.

Awesome.

Posted on August 16, 2005 12:04 PM

Jervis Thompson said:

That site is way cool. I wonder if I can get a job there? 8-)

Posted on August 16, 2005 02:17 PM

Dan Mall said:

Jervis, I'm sure there's a chance...

Posted on August 16, 2005 02:22 PM

stilist said:

'e's playin' wiv' me 'ead, 'e is!

Looks excellent, congratulations on a job well done!

Posted on August 16, 2005 02:48 PM

Sebastian Schmieg said:

Looks pretty good! Congrats on a job well done.

Btw, That is where I'm studying.

Oh, and another Btw: with that thick lines, your comments look really important ;-)

Posted on August 16, 2005 04:22 PM

James D said:

Congratulations on going the extra 100 miles and getting this live - knew we'd get there eventually. Thanks to both of you for your efforts at getting through the buerocrasy towards the end :-)

(I know I can't spell)

Posted on August 16, 2005 09:56 PM

Malcolm McAtee said:

ITS ALIVE!!!

Posted on August 18, 2005 10:11 AM

Sorry: comments are closed.