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Michael Gordon

New Web Site Fast, Friendly and Up to Date

3/27/2003 -- Alumni, current and prospective students, and others visiting the University of Michigan Business School's new Web site will find a fast, friendly and seamless entry into the school's digital domain, says Michael D. Gordon, associate dean for information technology.

Log in to the new site and visit iMpact, the school's new intranet, which is fully integrated into the main Business School Web site. iMpact replaces M-Track, the old intranet, which stood apart from the school's public Web site.

Redesigning the Web site-only the third in the school's history-has been a huge project involving all units in the Business School. By focusing on the tasks people perform most often and recruiting more than 150 users representing the school's constituencies to test the final site and many iterations of a prototype, Gordon explains, "We have tried to produce a great, usable site."

Previously, the school had two Web sites, one for the public and the other for internal audiences, including students, faculty and staff. The way tasks were performed varied, depending on the site one entered. It was confusing.

With the new design, everyone enters one site, Once inside, access to certain portions of the site varies, depending whether the user is a student or prospective student, alumnus, faculty or staff member, recruiter, a member of the media or part of the general public.

The Web site's information architecture was designed based on interviews with users and rigorous usability testing, a specialty of Diamond Bullet Design, the Ann Arbor firm that worked with the school on the redesign. "We really wanted to exceed by a wide margin the success people would have performing various tasks when compared with our old site and with sites of peer institutions such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University," Gordon says. The new Web site exceeded our goals in three key areas:

Task completion rate (the percentage of people successfully completing a specific task, such as locating contact information for a faculty member or finding application deadlines). Based on results of testers, the Web site has an 85 percent completion rate compared with 61 percent for M-Track and less than 75 percent for the Wharton and Kellogg sites.

The time it takes to complete a task, such as finding information on how to apply for financial aid. The old site worked well at 72 seconds, Gordon says. The time has been reduced on the new site to 43 seconds, compared with more than 100 seconds for Wharton and Kellogg.

People's rating of ease of use to complete a task, independent of successful completion or time it took, on a scale of one to seven with one being best. In terms of ease of use, the old Business School Web site, at 3.6, was comparable to Wharton's and Kellogg's scores of 3.5 and 3.6, respectively. The new Web site bests all three with a score of 2.4.

While improving performance, designers also upgraded the Web site's appearance to give it a consistent look and to make it cleaner and more prestigious looking. Again on a scale of one to seven, with one being the best, testers gave the new site a 2.7 compared with 4.2 for the old Business School site and 3.2 and 3.4 for Wharton and Kellogg, respectively.

"When people come to the Business School's Web front door, we want them to get a sense of the school's intellectual vibrancy, the cutting-edge research being done by our faculty and students, and the many diverse activities going on here on any given day," Gordon says.

To maintain the site's freshness, academic departments and units such as Admissions, the Office of Career Development, Communications and the Executive Education Center are using a program, called a content management tool, which is designed to simplify updating pages that change frequently. A new Google search engine makes it easier to find Business School information online.

"For alumni and others, the new site features what's going on at the school with much more transparency," Gordon says.

For more information, contact:
Becky Gaffney
Phone: 734.763.1387