All About Carleton's New Home Page

August 1, 2014
By Matt Ryan

We're sure you've noticed that Carleton has a new home page. We'd like to share information about what's new, and what went into its creation!

What's new:

1. It's mobile (and tablet) friendly

Our new home page is fully mobile-optimized – built with a responsive design that adjusts itself automatically for the dimensions of everything from desktop PCs to tablets to smartphones. We hope you will find using the new home page on your phone or tablet to be a lot easier than the old home page was. And if you have a retina screen, you'll see beautiful high-resolution photos.

2. It has a new look that matches the department sites

We're in the process of giving carleton.edu a fresh coat of paint. We've already touched up the academic departments, and now it's the home page's turn. Next we'll be tackling the administrative offices and the banner that goes across the top of Carleton sites.

3. It is focused on helping prospective students understand what makes Carleton unique

We know that Carleton is a very special place. But a prospective student who stumbles on our home page might not know anything about this school. So the new home page takes a playful approach – which we call "word duos" – to communicating the fact that Carleton is unique because of its particular combinations of qualities. It's both serious and fun, challenging and supportive, chilly (temperature-wise) and warm (interpersonally).

How the new home page was made:

Appropriately for a school where students and faculty do a lot of research… we did a lot of research!

We talked to many, many prospective students. We asked them what they wanted to know when they visited a college home page, and we got their reactions to a variety of real home pages from Carleton and other schools.

We then took that information, cogitated and brainstormed on it, and developed four different ideas for the new home page. We showed those ideas to students, colleagues, trustees, and (most importantly) prospective students and their parents, to see which did the best job of quickly getting across the special qualities of Carleton. The design you see is the one that was liked best by most people we showed it to.

We took some new photos, found others that had already been taken, and pulled together about five times as many photos as ended up on the home page. Then we did even more research, asking prospective students and their parents which photos they thought did the best job at helping them understand Carleton.

We researched what our visitors were searching for most that wasn't on the home page, and made sure those links were added so you don't have to search any more – just click on Moodle and The Hub now to go right there.

Finally, we put it all together using a piece of software called Reason. This tool, which we share with several other midwestern peer schools, powers most of the public websites at Carleton. It makes building pages like this easy and fast, and allows the homepage to be updated quickly by people who aren't computer geniuses.

Then we tested like mad to make sure that it works in a wide variety of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari, and a bunch of devices and operating systems, including Windows, Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets.

Now that that is all done, we are pleased to present Carleton's new home page. We hope it works well for you. If you have questions, comments, ideas, photos you think would be great, or any other response to this change, please email web@carleton.edu.

Thanks for your time!

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