I’ve got two daughters who think that the best things on TV are reality makeover programmes (our TV at home seems to alternate between Grand Designs and Gok’s Fashion Fix), but they didn’t get as excited as I did about our makeover project – taking the Microsoft UK Education site and adding a pile of new features to it.
This is what the site looked like before Friday:
And since Friday morning, it has looked like this:
Whilst the new look and feel is nice (and has had some good feedback in its first four days) there are some much more important changes to the navigation and design that are important to me.
- We’ve added specific sections for Schools, Further Education, Higher Education, Teachers and Students
The previous design did indeed have a colourful tab bar for sections, they only got you to a single page. None of the rest of the content (for example the products section) was separated. Which means that Schools were seeing products only suitable for Higher Education, or vice versa. We’ve got further improvements planned for each of these sections – but obviously content changes had to wait until they existed!
- There is better linking between this blog and the website
For example, you can now click on a blog story in the website, and read it right there, without having to jump across to the blog (on a different website)
- We have tags to help find relevant information
The whole www.microsoft.com website is enormous, and sometimes impenetrable to navigate. And even the little bit sitting under the UK Education site was becoming unwieldy – with over 140 pages of content to navigate. So now we have added tags to the home page, allowing you to jump straight to key content, without having to search through the menu structure. “Licensing” is a good example – it is one of the most often-read sections, but was previously buried in the menus.
- We have updated some of the content
But, to be honest, we have plenty of content updates to do still. Most of our focus has been moving to the new site structure, and now we hope to get lots of content updates between now and the start of term.
(A note on the “we” in the last sentence – the team’s not as big as you might think – it’s me and Gordon who’re responsible for keeping this all going and up-to-date, with others dropping by to help! Keeping the content up-to-date is like painting the Forth Bridge – we’d never have managed to get it all updated before we moved, and so we’d never have moved. It is easier on the new site for us to make small changes quickly, without having to get a big project kicked off)