New Home Page...Finally!

After weeks of work, I was very excited to officially launch the NEW home page today!

Here’s a little explanation of what we did and why:

From the time I was interviewing for this position, it has been noted that the old home page layout had some weaknesses. Designed to not scroll, the page was very limited in what it could display. The limited promotional space along with the use of “blurbs” that consisted of only a graphic with a headline severely constrained what we could display when visitors first arrived to our site. There are many COSI programs and offerings that never made it to the home page due to either their limited audience scope or seasonal (internal) competition. As a result, site visitors had not been exposed to the vast wealth of resources and programs available at COSI on our Home Page.

In addition, we wished to update the overall look of the web site. We desired to communicate a feel that is less corporate and better reflects the look and feel of our print pieces. We had been excited to see some of the new signage and literature that Peebles Creative Group had been creating lately, and chose to apply some of those visual cues to the web site as well. I also wanted to make use of some newer web layout and image technology to make our site feel more contemporary and cutting-edge.

The result?

(View in Internet Explorer 7, Firefox, or some other modern browser for full functionality. It works in IE6, but not with all the bells and whistles.)

The new page has more of a “news site” feel. We can now highlight our “lead story” and a couple of second-level stories with both photos and short descriptive texts before we link visitors to more information. We still have a main graphic rotator (although this new one is JavaScript based, so it WILL display on non-Flash devices like the iPhone and Wii), and you can even cycle the rotating images manually by clicking on the arrow buttons. Additional headlines down the page allow us to highlight more programs and offerings than we ever could before. The “floating box” layout will allow us to add or remove content areas as needed.

We have provided our site visitors with COSI’s hours and rates right on the home page, as this is by far the most sought after information on our site (the general idea here is to make information that a user wants most as easy to find as possible).

The press room, event facility rental, and volunteer & employment links have transitioned from static (unchanging) boxes taking up significant home page real estate to a “utility navigation” in the upper right corner. They will appear there throughout the ENTIRE site (rather than getting buried in a drop-down menu on other pages). We can and will also highlight these areas when appropriate in other locations on the home page.

From an innovation and design perspective, you may notice the header, footer, and background remain fixed on the page and all other content scrolls “beneath” the header and footer (complete with drop shadows). This not only looks cool, but also keeps our main navigation menu easily accessible no matter where you are on a given page.

There is much more I could share, but I’ll let you look over it and send me your thoughts and questions.

We will be working on transforming the rest of the site section by section to match this new look and feel over the course of the coming months!