The University of Melbourne has a large and sprawling web presence consisting of over 1000 websites and more than 2 million pages spread across a number of largely autonomous business units.
As digital team lead I was unhappy with the inconsistency and duplication of effort that I saw across this presence. Websites were hosted across a wide variety of CMS platforms. Each was designed and developed by a different set of designers and developers - often at great expense and of variable quality.
There was almost no way to ensure that we provided a consistency of brand, usability, navigation, accessibility or tag management across such a large web presence.
Although the University spent lots of money on designers and developers, more often than not these professionals were pulling the site apart by using different design patterns and development techniques, rather than all pulling in the same direction.
As the leader of a small central team, I decided that there had to be a better way for the university to build websites.
Specifically I was looking to create something for the university that:
The process for building this was relatively simple. I came up with the idea and worked closely with my talented team to build what is now used across many hundreds of websites.
Solve some of the more interesting challenges I helped solve during the development of web.unimelb for the University include:
Turns out it’s really difficult to design a website when you don’t know what the content will be. Building a design system is entirely different from building most normal websites. I helped the design lead overcome this challenge by dissecting many of the universities websites to create a list of components that would be needed.
We then worked through the various components using a mobile-first approach using Sketch. Following this we prototyped into middleman and, later, a highly trafficked campaign site.
A good example of this is our singular implementation of hamburger the navigation. Rather than force users to understand horizontal navigations, tabs, drop-downs and more, we took a universal approach to navigation by using a hamburger. This controversial decision has paid off - our sites are visually impressive and, more importantly (and controversially), frequent testing shows comfort and familiarity with the hamburger design pattern.
It’s difficult to overstate the impact of web.unimelb.