On Monday 7 October, the Equality and Diversity Office announced the arrival of a completely new set of webpages for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University.
The pages make use of the newest website templates, and feature impactful images and clear signposting to information. We’re pretty pleased with them. The screenshots here only show elements of the pages: you can explore them all at york.ac.uk/about/equality
They didn’t always look like this. Before we did this work the pages were produced using Dreamweaver, rather than our Web CMS (Content Management System), using a template which had become dated. The colour scheme had very much had its day, and the site wasn’t achieving what it needed to do: presenting the information that staff and students need in a clear and accessible way.
How did we get there?
When the Equality team came to us to ask for a review and update of their webpages, we took an initial look at their pages, and it was immediately clear that there was a lot of clutter. This included information that was no longer needed either because it was out of date or because it duplicated content that was held elsewhere on the University website. This isn’t unusual, and it wasn’t a failure on the part of those managing the pages – websites grow organically and there isn’t always an opportunity to review older content when you’re adding important new information.
So the first task was to prune the existing pages and, fortunately for us, the Equality team undertook this work. We agreed on a structure for the website, and started to share the existing content that would migrate and the new content that needed to be created. At the same time, the Equality team were working with our photographer Alex Holland on a number of photoshoots to illustrate the new pages and to be used on other material.
We kept talking and sharing comments throughout the project; building a good working relationship with a common goal has been crucial to this project. At intervals, we also reported to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and took on board their feedback.
When the pages were ready to be tested, the Equality team recruited a group of volunteers – some with specific accessibility requirements – to help with pre-launch accessibility and usability testing, and to provide general feedback. Their comments on the new pages were largely positive, but their attention to detail helped us to identify a number of changes to make before we launched the pages.
Structure, layout and usability
We’ve separated the pages into two sections:
- Strategic and practical information that applies across the University is at york.ac.uk/about/equality
- Functional detail about the Equality and Diversity office and EDI Committee is at york.ac.uk/about/departments/support-and-admin/edo/.
This mirrors the split we have elsewhere between information and function (eg admissions information for potential students is separate from information about the Student Recruitment and Admissions team).
Throughout the site, the focus is on giving priority to the information that matters most to our staff and students; so practical information about inclusive facilities features higher up the page than more corporate information about equality law and data.
We worked with our user experience (UX) designers to ensure good usability of the pages. Our standard Web CMS templates are designed to work well with a range of devices (eg tablets, phones, laptops) and with screen readers. In addition, there’s currently work ongoing to improve the accessibility of the University website which means that the templates will continue to be updated to ensure best practice.
Page content is key to creating usable web pages. We’ve reduced the word count as far as possible, and rewritten content in the active voice and first/second person voice. And because PDFs can be a problem for usability, we’ve replaced existing PDFs with web pages wherever possible.
We’re keeping an eye on the page usage statistics to check that they’re being used and to assess how long people stay on pages – are they following links elsewhere, staying long enough to read the page, or just looking and leaving? An early assessment suggests that the pages are being viewed more than the previous version, and that people are moving on quickly from pages that are mainly links, and staying longer on pages where there’s more to read. That’s not groundbreaking information, but it suggests that we’ve got things right.
|Time on page
|Old Equality &
|1 minute 13
|New Equality &
|1 minute 54
* Unique visits refers to the number of times the pages have been accessed by different people – if one person accesses the pages repeatedly from their desktop PC, they are only counted once.
The Equality team are gathering feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve made a few tweaks since the pages went live, but overall they’ve been well received. Marketing and Equality will work together to ensure that the pages continue to look good and work well.