Proposed Information Architecture

Items which are bold are links to sites or applications outside of the highly branded, public facing site. As such, we will not require extensive design treatment for these elements, aside from a generic theme and style guide which we can apply to our custom applications.

The sections labeled Interact below will be forward-facing portals for the section of the site they live in. We model this on the existing News Portal (http://go.middlebury.edu/news) and will use the same platform and technology we use for that site, and plan to use for the internal Personal Home Page sites, for the interaction sites. They are intended to give these areas increased flexibility in where they create their content and provide an aggregated view of that content.

  • Front Page
    • Top Right Navigation Bar
      • Log On – takes user to their Personal Home Page
      • WebMail
      • Banner
      • Directory
      • Emergency
      • Search – this is a Search Box!
    • Navigation Links on Front Page
      • Admissions
        • Applying
        • Financial Aid
        • Campus Visits
        • Interact
      • Academics
        • Departments
        • Course Catalog
        • Course Sites
        • Library
      • Programs
        • Language Schools
        • Schools Abroad
        • Bread Loaf School of English
        • Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference
      • Athletics
        • Scores
        • Schedule
        • Rosters
        • Prospectives
      • Alumni
        • Events
        • Chapters
        • News
        • Directory
      • Giving
        • Online Giving
        • Middlebury Initiative
        • Donor Roll
        • Gift Planning
      • Affiliates
        • Monterey Institute for International Studies
        • Middlebury / Monterey Language Academy
        • Middlebury at Mills
        • Brandeis / Middlebury School of Hebrew
      • Arts
        • Arts News
        • Arts Calendar
        • Box Office
        • Museum of Art
      • Resources
        • Campus Map
        • Helpdesk
        • Bookstore
        • Jobs
    • Events Calendar
    • News
  • News – shows a list of the latest news stories with images and descriptions; site also contains an archive of News items arranged as follows in reverse chronological order; this site should remain functionally similar to the current News portal (go/news) and retain the links to other publications like Middlebury Magazine, The Campus, and administrative and student run blogs.
    • YYYY
      • MM
        • Shows a list of news stories from this Month
  • Emergency
    • In the event of an Emergency, response information displayed prominently
    • Emergency Response Guide
      • 1. Accidents or Medical Emergencies
      • 2. Fire
      • 3. Armed Threat
      • 4. Violent Crime or Behavior
      • 5. Explosion
      • 6. Bomb Threat
      • 7. Suspicious Packages and Envelopes or Substances
      • 8. Chemical Spill, Detection of Propane Gas, Fumes and Vapors
      • 9. Utility Failure
      • 10. Technology – Prolonged Outage
      • 11. Campus Trauma: Untimely Death or Serious Injury
      • 12. Health Emergency
      • 13. Pandemic – Campus Evacuation
      • 14. Weather
      • 15. Earthquake
      • 16. Water Damage or Structural Damage
    • General Information
      • Alertfind Messaging System
        • MessageOne
        • AlertFind – Receiving Messages
      • Emergency Response & Disaster Plan
      • Messages to the College Community
      • Safety And Security Handbook
      • Who Do I Call?
    • Internal Emergency Response Information
      • Organized by department
  • Admissions – build the current Request More Information link into the home page here as a button and consolidate the Banner forms to that Prospective types don’t have to pre-select the form that applies to them
    • Applying
      • Applications
      • Requirements & Deadlines
      • Frequently Asked Questions
        • For February Admissions
        • For Transfer Students
        • For International Students
        • For Parents
    • Financial Aidhome page content would include the information currently in Cost of a Middlebury Education
      • Applications – to include all of the content in the Forms area, which will additionally be purged of forms for prior years
      • Requirements & Deadlines – name changed to match section in Applying
        • Prospective Students
        • Current Students
        • Language Schools – link to LS site
        • Schools Abroad – link to SA site
        • Bread Loaf School of English – link to BLSE site
        • Middlebury Monterey Language Academy – link to MMLA site
      • Frequently Asked Questions – content from the current Types of Aid and Payment Options questions will be edited and added here in question/answer form
      • Contact
    • Campus Visits
      • Campus Tour Schedule – link to Events Calendar
      • Campus Maps and Directions – link to Campus Maps
      • Visits to your High School – link to Events Calendar
    • Interact
    • Facts and Figures – present the basic facts we have on the site, but also include more information from the diversity profile and other institutional research; also display the Financial Aid section on cost; also display facts about the Town
    • Contact
  • Academics
    • Individual Department Sites – a tabled list with colors or icons to note whether this site is for a Major, Minor, or Interdisciplinary Program. It is vital that this list is displayed on the home page of Academics. Each department site will have a landing page with placeholders for content from the “Interact” site below, such as videos of students from the department and/or a blogroll.
      • Courses – link to Course Catalog
      • Requirements
      • Faculty – list of photos and Directory information similar to our current faculty listings
        • Page for Each Faculty Member – includes photo of the faculty member from the Directory, other Directory information including Office Hours, and a profile of the Faculty member from their personal home page, editable by each Faculty member (and likely also by the department coordinators to offer assistance where needed).
        • Page for Department Coordinator, Lab Techs, etc. – similar content to Faculty profiles
      • Events – link to Events Calendar
      • Interact
    • Course Catalog – link to Course Catalog
    • Course Sites
    • Library
    • Academic Administration – this is a combination of the information currently in About Middlebury, Academic Affairs, the Handbooks, the Dean of the College site, and similar resource that are spread out in the current IA. This site will not be part of the highly branded, public-facing site, but its IA is included here for reference
      • President of the College – move biography so that it appears on the first page
        • President’s Blog
        • Board of Trustees
        • Officers of the Corporation
        • Past Middlebury Presidents (merge with President’s Emeriti)
        • Addresses & Statements (merge with Inauguration content)
        • Major Initiatives
        • Staff and Hours
          • President’s Staff
          • President’s Office Staff
          • Office Hours
      • Institutional Planning & Diversity
      • News and Information
        • President’s Blog
        • Dean of the College Blog
        • Academic Achievements – feed of academic related news stories from the central news site
        • Awards & Recognition – not limited to those listed below… central site for this content
          • Citizens Medal Winners
          • Staff Appreciation Awards
        • Faculty Experts
        • Faculty Publications – link to Library database
        • The Strategic Plan
      • Policies
        • Honor Code
        • AP Credit
        • College Handbook
        • Resources for New Faculty
        • Reappointment & Tenure
      • Committees
        • Administration Committee
        • Community Council
        • Faculty Committees & Governance
        • Institutional Review Board
        • Judicial Boards
        • Task Force on the Status of Women
        • Sexual Assault Oversight Committee
  • Athletics – home page is aggregated group of news stories from central news site based on tags
    • News – at the top level this will display a list of news stories, which can be filtered by sport and category.
      • SportsNotes Newsletter
      • Features
      • Middlebury Magazine Features
      • Webcasts
      • Photography
    • Sports
      • Coed
        • Individual Sports Sites
          • About the Program
          • News – drawn from central news site
          • Schedule & Results – drawn from database
          • Coaches – similar profiles as those provided for in Academics section
          • Roster
          • Captains
          • Facilities
      • Men’s
        • Individual Sports Sites
      • Women’s
        • Individual Sports Sites
      • Club Sports
    • Scores – aggregate view of sports scores in descending order of occurange with links to sports sections and game statistics; search interface for results archive
    • Schedule – link to Events Calendar
    • Facilities – link to Campus Maps
    • Prospectives – link to Prospectives application
    • About Athletics
      • Mission & Philosophy
      • NESCAC Admissions Practices
      • P.E. FAQ’s
      • Athletics Staff – similar profiles as those provided for in Academics section
  • Alumni – all external links here go to those features in the external Alumni Community
    • Alumni Directory
    • Career Networking
    • Events & Events Registration
    • Social Networking Tools
    • “My Page” Personal Profile
    • Class Notes
    • Online Giving
    • E-Mail Forwarding
    • Networking
      • Facebook
      • LinkedIn
      • Youtube
    • News – feed of all content from main Middlebury news source that’s tagged with “alumni”
      • Middlebury Magazine
    • Events – link to Events Calendar
      • Reunion
      • Homecoming
    • Chapters – links to Facebook chapter groups
  • Giving – build prominent “Give Now” button into the main page here. This would take folks directly to the online giving form
    • Middlebury Initiative
    • Ways to Give
      • Give Online – link to online giving form
      • Call to Make a Gift
      • Send a Check
      • Matching Gifts
      • Gift Planning
      • 1800 Society
      • Senior Class Gift
      • Student Fundraising Resources
    • Alumni Fund
      • Participations Challenge
      • Honor Rolls of Donors
        • Undergraduate
        • 1800 Society
        • Language Schools
        • Bread Loaf
        • Faculty & Staff
      • Become a Class Agent
      • Contact Us
    • Parents Fund
      • Join the Parent’s Committee
      • Honor Roll of Donors
    • Update your Information – link to form
    • Contact
  • Arts
    • Arts Calendar – link to Events Calendar
    • News and Publications
      • Middlebury Magazine
    • Box Office – link to Online Box Office
    • Performing Arts Series
    • Museum of Art
    • Library
    • Committee on Art in Public Places
    • General Information
    • Contact
  • Resources
    • Campus Map
    • Facilities
      • McCullough Student Center
      • Ralph Myhre Golf Course
      • Rikert Ski Touring Center
      • Middlebury College Snow Bowl
      • Rohatyn Center for International Affairs
      • Scott Center for Spiritual & Religious Life
      • Jewish Center
      • Chellis House
      • McCardell Bicentennial Hall
    • Activities – an external site with the following sections
      • Student Organizations
      • Leadership Development
      • Middlebury Outdoor Programs
      • Performance Spaces
      • Winter Term Workshops
      • Orientation Trips
      • Transportation Information
      • Student Fundraising Projects
      • Student Leader Resources
      • Volunteering
      • Contact
    • Student Employment
    • Helpdesk
    • Human Resources
    • Jobs
  • Programs
    • Language Schools – landing page has graphical links to MMLA, Graduate Programs, Midd@Mills as well as textual links to each of the LS programs
      • Apply Now – each of these link out to the application
        • Arabic
        • Chinese
        • French
        • German
        • Hebrew
        • Italian
        • Japanese
        • Portuguese
        • Russian
        • Spanish
      • Dates & Fees
      • Events Calendar
      • Financial Aid & Scholarships
        • Kathryn Davis Fellowship
        • Vermont Teachers Scholarship
        • Minority Student Scholarship
        • Premio Fede
      • FAQs
      • Middlebury at Mills
      • Graduate Studies
      • Schools Abroad
      • Pre-College Programs
      • LS Alumni – link to Alumni Community
      • LS News – aggregate from central news source
      • Contact
      • General Undergrad LS program site
        • Academic Program
        • Undergraduate
        • Graduate – link to graduate section
        • Faculty & Staff
        • Students
        • Activities
        • Course Catalog
        • Apply Now
        • Dates & Fees
        • Financial Aid & Scholarships – school specific
        • FAQs
        • Contact
    • Graduate Programs
      • Apply Now
        • Chinese
        • French
        • German
        • Italian
        • Med. Studies
        • Russian
        • Spanish
        • DML
      • Dates & Fees
      • Financial Aid & Scholarships
        • Kathryn Davis Fellowship
        • Vermont Teachers Scholarship
        • Minority Student Scholarship
        • Premio Fede
      • FAQs
      • Language Schools


8 Responses to “Proposed Information Architecture”

  1. Ian – this is a great outline of the site. My concern is that it seems to me that it will yield a number of pages whose primary function is lists of links. This is one of the crucial problems with our current site. So perhaps I’m misreading it, but it seems vital to have category pages (like Academics) contain content beyond link lists – and whenever possible use drop-down menus and other more flexible designs to avoid the list aesthetic.

    Two other things: the Search in the persistent top banner should not be a link to search, but a search box itself. And each academic dept. needs a splash page as well, which doesn’t seem to be featured on this list.

  2. Jason – I completely agree with you on the Search Box. This is something we’ve been in agreement about for so long in our group that I suppose I took it for granted! I’ve added clarifying text to the post on this matter. I agree as well about the need for departmental landing pages and the IA above should always suggest a landing page for each level of the site. The content of the departmental landing pages will probably vary between departments, depending on the department’s involvement and commitment to their site, but I’ve added a suggestion to the IA.

    On the other matter, I have to respectfully disagree. I’ll admit that I wasn’t centrally involved in the requirements gathering process, but when I showed up to each of the open sessions and some LIS meetings on the subject, at least one person stated that they relied on the “gateways” pages to navigate our site. The survey also showed a reliance on click through navigation. I remember one department coordinator specifically saying that 85% of the sites she visited each day were in the Faculty & Staff gateway and she wanted to make sure features like that were kept. I also heard several times that the department sites were too far down in our site navigation (they’re at the FOURTH level of the IA).

    I agree that it would be a mistake for every page of our site to be a list of links. And many areas of our current site suffer from this problem. However, I think that certain areas of the site benefit from this type of navigation: the list of academic departments, the list of language schools, the list of sports teams, and audience-specific gateways (which I now note are missing from our IA and need to be added). These lists should be as close to the top of the IA as we can permit. The proposed IA only makes the user click twice from the home page to get to any department site and that’s an intentional design based on user feedback.

    I also believe that a good design can take away some of the issues you raise with these lists of links. The current LS site displays its list of schools in a styled table, presented after some text and links to their guidebook. This is a much more elegant approach than the content in the current Varsity Sports section of the site, which is just plain links with nothing else. I favor the approach from the LS site which gives the user fast access to our content without sacrificing much in the way of interaction and design (though I do think we could improve on the content in that center area of LS to make it more interactive still).

    Anyway, those are my thoughts on the IA, but it’s still very much a work in progress. I want the designer to weigh in with their suggestions and I want more people at Middlebury to make changes as well. The IA document draft is still available on our wiki or can be edited in this post. Please do so! Some of the “Programs” section remains to be flushed out, as does the “Resources” section.

    One last note: we went into IA construction for our current site with a fixed document from the vendor that we treated as a kind of “IA Bible”. This had the advantage of creating a very fixed IA that really hasn’t changed in four years with the exception of the Academic Administration sites (DoC, DoA, DoSA, DoFac, and the Commons changed enough during that time to warrant significant IA rework). But perhaps having a more flexible document this time around will let us be more responsive in dealing with some of the problems in the IA as they become known. What if we had consolidated our News site years ago instead of months ago? What if we’d been able to kick the academic departments up to the top level of IA under Academics? What if the LIS site had been split into a distinct Library and LIS sites to help people find library content faster? We’d probably have created some new problems and solved some old ones, but the great thing about all of this is that we can move content around as needed.

  3. One suggested grammar change:
    Under Emergency>General Information>Who Do I Call? It should read “Whom Do I call?”

  4. Based on an email conversation with Matt Jennings, I’ve added some links to the Middlebury Magazine to the Alumni and Arts sections. I expect that the News section will remain functionally similar to our current News portal, which already has a link to the Magazine. The Magazine itself will be a separate site from the core, branded site, but still reflect the brand of Middlebury.

  5. Also, under Giving>Ways to Give could we add a link for “Gift of Artwork” or “Donate Art Collections” or something to that effect? Donors often have not thought about that form of giving, but if they see a link for it they may be prodded to do so.

  6. Ian – I think we agree: some “link lists” are important (academic departments or sports teams are good examples), and effective design can make it feel less like a list (whether it’s through layout, use of drop-down or cascading menus, or the like). A good example is the gateways on BU: http://www.bu.edu/faculty/ – there are dozens of links here, but it doesn’t feel like a list at all, and you can access nearly everything you want within a click or two. So it’s probably much more of a design issue, rather than an IA one.

  7. This layout sounds great – I especially love the easy-access search bar!
    Are we planning on a Midd news RSS feed?

  8. I hope that the first page graphics of the new website diminish the impact of all the other schools, rather than the Middlebury campus undergraduate experience. The current feel to the front page puts these programs front and center, rather than the core undergraduate programs.

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