New responsive website will enhance student experience

responsive design website viewed on a tablet
The York International Responsive website viewed on a smartphone
The York International Responsive website viewed on a smartphone

Over the past few months, York University’s Marketing & Creative Services and University Information Technology groups have developed a new responsive web template for the University’s websites. The new technology and website evolution are just part of York’s commitment to provide the best possible experience to its primary users, current and prospective students.

The template harnesses the latest web technical best practices while also being compliant with the new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements. Built using WordPress, responsive technology enables the website to adapt its layout to any screen size. Responsive design is where the screen width of a device — whether a smartphone, desktop computer or iPad — determines the view of a website, with minimal resizing, panning and scrolling. The key is that it allows users to easily navigate the site and complete tasks whether using a mobile device, tablet or computer. The responsive design template is now available to the broad York community. For a preview, visit the York International pilot site.

The York International Responsive website viewed on a tablet
The York International Responsive website viewed on a tablet

“The new template serves an important purpose. With visitors using the York website on multiple communication devices, our goal is to meet their needs in any medium and to ensure York content is displayed optimally, on any device,” says Bob Gagne, chief information officer, University Information Technology.

Prior to embarking on the project, the groups reviewed existing data on how information is retrieved from York University’s website and found that an increasing number of students access information in mobile environments. In addition, they conducted research with future students, which indicated that this primary audience is looking for a simple, uncluttered navigation to improve their experience.

“Given that our website is a key marketing tool for the University, launching the new responsive web template is critical to York U’s success as we continue to increase awareness of the University, improve student recruitment and enrolment, attract top-notch faculty and staff, and enhance engagement with our alumni,” says Susan Webb, chief communications & marketing officer, Communications & Public Affairs.

The template is now available for the York community to adopt and will require some effort to be AODA compliant including tagging photos and proper coding.  The goal is to have as many websites as possible using the template by Sept. 1, in order to impact the next recruitment cycle.

The York International Responsive website as viewed on a desktop computer
The York International Responsive website viewed on a desktop computer

“In the coming months you will see some exciting new changes to our home page, including a new design and cleaner navigation… stay tuned,” says Webb.

To learn more about the new responsive web template and how your department or Faculty can adopt it, visit the York University Web Toolbox.