Web Services

Homepage Refresh Project

Sept. 3, 2020

Later this month, a revamped Chico State homepage (www.csuchico.edu) and top-level pages will launch with a fresh look and more user-friendly design to attract prospective students. Web Services and University Communications have collaborated on this project to bring us into the modern era.

The homepage was last overhauled in 2009 with only incremental changes since. A lot has changed about how people (especially students) use the web in that time—less browsing, more searching; less reading, more photos; fewer desktops, more smartphones. 

This refresh aims to increase the University’s enrollment by maximizing prospective student engagement, ensuring the information most important to prospective students is easy to find, presented clearly, and inspirational.

What information is most important to prospective students?

National research studies of high school juniors and seniors have shown the following items are most important to students as they research colleges:

  • Academic programs and majors
  • Cost of attendance
  • Student life and campus

If they don't find that information easily, many get frustrated and leave a college website. This project is designed to make it easier for prospective students to find the information they’re most interested in and provide a great first impression.

What's Changing

  • Prospective students are the target audience—The reality is, most users arrive at department sites from a Google search. So, who’s coming in the front door? Students who are exploring Chico State for the first time. This, coupled with our University’s strategic enrollment priorities, has allowed us to focus on serving that primary audience.
  • Fewer but more effective links—The current homepage and top-level sites are bloated with hundreds of links that never get clicked and actually make it hard to find what you need. We’ve streamlined the pages to focus on clear calls to action and assist users on their journey to learn about Chico State’s offerings.
  • New/Improved top-level pages—Based on national data trends and information from our own Admissions team, we specifically identified the homepage, academic programs and majors, cost of attendance, and student life as areas for improvement, so we curated pages covering those areas.
  • More visual storytelling—We’ve renewed our focus on showing the Chico Experience, rather than simply telling about it. Engaging photography throughout the pages showcases the faces, places, and activities that make our campus one of the best.
  • Changing with the seasons—The homepage will no longer have one, static look. It is built with a modular design that will allow us to move sections of content or calls to action around depending on where we are in the admissions cycle to highlight the application when it’s open or tours and visits when it’s not, for example.
  • Bye-bye background arches—The current sitewide background featuring the Laxson arches will be replaced with a neutral background that will give our whole site a fresh, modern look. Read about the additional sitewide changes.
  • Designing for everyoneOur approach to these pages is informed by the idea of inclusive design, which takes everyone into account from the get-go, rather than adding on accommodations. We’ve moved beyond technical accessibility to consider many different users like those who have anxiety disorders or ADD, struggle with a poor Internet connection, or for whom English is not their native language.

What's Not Changing

  • Your favorite things—Links to the email, Portal, library, schedule, etc. on the top right corner of the page will remain across all campus websites. The Portal and email links make up the significant majority of our web traffic overall and almost all clicks from on campus, so we know you love them!
  • A great mobile experience—These pages have been designed with the mobile browsing experience at top of mind, as that is often the first impression for prospective students.
  • Search for what you need—You can still search the site from the top-right corner or from your favorite search engine, and we’ve taken search engines into account when writing text for the refreshed pages to make it even easier to find what you need through search.
  • Meeting our moral and legal accessibility obligations—We will continue to meet or exceed WCAG 2.0AA standards for technical accessibility across the csuchico.edu site not just because it’s required, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Summary of Changes to Campus Pages
SectionSummary of Changes
HomepageBy narrowing the focus to prospective students and decreasing the number of total links, the new homepage will have more room for photos and well-written text snippets that show off the University and lead students to the information they’re most interested in.
AcademicsA photo-friendly, concise, and consistent presentation of CSU Chico’s 40+ academic programs and degrees. The new pages will be easier to browse than what’s currently available: catalog & dept. sites.
Cost of AttendanceA more polished version of the current cost of attendance page that’s easier to use and highlights the high percentage of students who receive financial aid.
Student LifeGive prospective students a feel of the faces and places at Chico State.

We look forward to launching the refresh later this month, with continuous improvements planned as we gather feedback and data once the site is live. Questions? Email ucomm@csuchico.edu.