Client: Neuroscience Institute (NI), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)
Context: One of my main job responsibilities is building and maintaining the NI website.
Timeline: Ongoing; I performed the changes described here during the Fall 2020 semester.
Summary: I am redesigning the NI website to reflect the Institute's growth. I began this project in the summer of 2020 by creating a new sitemap and have been working through each section of the website to expand its navigation and add pages where needed, refine/reorganize content, and improve layout. Here I will walk you through the process of re-designing the Academics section (previously "Training") on the NI website.
Click on the screenshot to the left to get a closer look at how the Academics page (previously "Training" page) appeared before its redesign.
All of the information about training programs and academic programs on the NI website consisted of only this one webpage. The most important revisions to make were:
• Information about a new graduate program, the Ph.D. in Systems Neuroscience (PSN) needed to be added.
• Information about the Ph.D. Program in Neural Computation (PNC) was hosted on its own website. This content needed to be added.
• A section explaining the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) was buried in the middle of the page's body text. Familiarity with the CNBC is foundational for any person who becomes involved with NI. This is especially true for prospective graduate students because our students automatically become CNBC members. The explanation of CNBC needed to be highlighted in a place where visitors to the Academics page would notice it right away.
• There are numerous graduate and undergraduate programs that are not administered by NI but are of potential interest to aspiring neuroscientists. The relationships among them are confusing. A potential student would still have trouble navigating their potential options after reading this webpage.
In the newest iteration of the Academics page (above), I added a paragraph of introduction text to give a quick overview of the different programs available before going into detail about each one, and a jump menu to help orient visitors on the page.
Although there are numerous options for both graduate and undergraduate study, NI itself administers degrees only through our two Ph.D. programs. To make this distinction clear, I grouped the page into three sections: "degree-granting graduate training;" "alternate graduate training;" and "undergraduate training."
I added a brightly colored sidebar with information about the CNBC at the top of the page, to catch the visitor's eye before anything else. If they are already familiar with the CNBC, they can easily skip this box and proceed to peruse the rest of the page.
Finally, as I redesign each section of the NI website, I have enabled the secondary navigation (side navigation). You can get a glimpse of the overall information architecture of this section of the website in the mock-up above, but I've also included a sitemap below. I've also included full screenshots of the Academics page and the PSN page. You are welcome to explore the site for yourself.