Home page design

This new design is based on comments and feedback from current and prospective students, faculty and other members of the Duke community. It builds upon a look-and-feel established with Duke’s recent undergraduate admissions viewbooks, laying the foundation for a stronger visual identity for Duke websites generally. The site also will adhere to current web and accessibility standards. Click the image below to expand.

Home page design

Home page design

Here also is a link to download the presentation given to the Duke communicators and web community attendees this morning.

34 Responses to “Home page design”

  1. Steve O'Donnell says:

    Go banner bar (and Banner Bar, if someone wants to open a watering hole for Duke Communicators)! For all sites! At the top!

    I know Paul and Greg will wince at this question because they haven’t finished with Iteration #1 of Services & Administration, but will we adopt the banner bar for Iteration #2 of the Services & Admin sites?

  2. Steve -

    The beauty of the Services & Admin sites is that they are all unified and look like Duke. I see the brand bar/flag as being more important for those sites where “Duke” is not prominently represented. However, I certainly am willing to hear Paul & Greg’s ideas on this!!

  3. Lauren Hunt says:

    The new design is rich, inviting, informative and accessible. Kudos!

  4. For Arts & Sciences departments who are in the process of having websites redesigned, how will the banner bar option work for us? Would we use yours or pattern after the A&S homepage?

  5. Stephen Bryan says:

    I like this design a lot. It’s clean, crisp, and visually appealing. It invites users to explore the site, rather than the current site, which draws users to the photos, but little else.

  6. Marsha Green says:

    I’d love to see a mock-up of how the banner bar might be used with another brand — say the name of a school or an institute. Any chance someone could pull this together?

  7. Marsha Green says:

    3 questions:
    Question about the bottom black bar. I really like the idea of the Duke Videos/podcasts. But when I looked closer, I was rather confused by the division of other items into “Tools” and “Resources” I would have thought that “map” and “services & administration” and the “A-Z director” were resources, not tools. I certainly wouldn’t have looked for a map under tools if I was a visitor. (Although I might have gone to the visitor page!)

    Question about the Banner Bar. I can’t get the presentation that shows the expanded banner bar to get big enough on my screen to actually see what the links are when it expands, or whether there is any indication to the uninitiated that you should actually click on it to make it do something. If people don’t click on the banner bar, is there a way for the tools/links to be accessed someplace else — say, in a “more tools” or “more links” button at the bottom?

    Question about the “Resources for” grey box: which button are you expecting people who come to this page looking for the hospital to hit?

    Details, details, but in general I like the look.

  8. Jessamyn Rubio says:

    Nice layout with solid layering of information. With only a brief look at the page, I can quickly see the visual hierarchy and decide where I can navigate to get needed information - which is exactly how a site should present its information.

    The decision to have the banner bar as include code is also very considerate of the other web people throughout the university running sites in other content management systems.

    Will the featured content also rotate like Wake Forest’s recently launched design? http://www.wfu.edu/

  9. Ben Riseling says:


    We haven’t decided yet whether the featured content will rotate or whether that rotation will be self-activated via the thumbnails. This is likely one of a number of interactive decisions we’ll want to have informed through usability testing once the pages are built.

    Thank you for the great feedback though. Much appreciated.

  10. Rose Wilson says:

    I agree with Marsha about the bottom black bar. Also, I really don’t like having to scroll down so far to see it. The color scheme for that toolbar seems out of sync with the rest of the design.
    Also, I find the orange and green text difficult to read on the areas with a white background. You may find http://usability.gov/pdfs/guidelines_book.pdf to be a helpful resource.

  11. Sara Allen says:

    I love the new design. It is rich, inviting, and competitive with other academic institution websites, as well as current website designs in general.

    As a former creative project manager for a web design company and current strategic communications consultant, as well as a Duke alumna (and former Duke employee), my thoughts travel to content management. Since these designs (the home page, as well as content- and link-rich subpages) are heavily reliant on “live” information (events, news, spotlights, features), ensure Duke has plenty of staff on hand to manage and update the content regularly and strategically. For example, are communications channels in place to ensure that Duke Today, This Week at Duke, and Duke Research news are incorporated with the main website as they are published?

    Additionally, I would hope that the design would be carried over to sub sites for Duke’s individual schools and institutes to lend cohesive branding identity. One of my recent consulting projects lent exposure to the Sanford rebranding and I would hope that this new http://www.duke.edu will influence parallel web and design initiatives at Duke.

    Those are my two cents! Nice work so far. I’m excited to see the final result.

    All best,
    Sara Allen (Arlington, VA)

  12. Dan Scheirer says:

    Even before I arrived at Duke in July 2007, I thought the Duke homepage was a terrible design flaw. The open white space as a “gateway” to Duke was misconceived and not up to web standards of the day.

    I am glad that someone finally has taken on the task of a face lift for the homepage.

  13. Ben Riseling says:


    Thank you for the kind words about the new design and as one member of the team charged with maintaining content on all of the sites from News & Communications I really appreciate your concern! Rest assured we have conceived the new Duke.edu site with a content strategy that incorporates its relationship to all of our other news gateways and publications. Expect to hear more about future plans for those publications later in the year.

    We also will be launching a style guide with this new site that will be the go to place for helping Duke to develop a cohesive branding strategy for all of its schools and institutes. I encourage you and anyone else to contact Denise Haviland (denise.haviland@duke.edu) directly if you’d like to know more about this aspect of the project.

  14. Jae Furman says:

    My first initial reaction is that I see a very nice layout, much improved layout, that is attractive to many visitor categories, i.e., students, faculty, staff, researchers, peers, etc. I haven’t looked further into the navigation, mapping or intuitiveness of it yet, but will try to take another look soon.

  15. John Moore says:

    Replacement of the myriad of photos which seemed to have little relationship to what many viewers were interested in deserves applause. As a Professor, now Emeritus, I was a member of the first committee assigned to replace the original site which was essentially an image of the Blue Devil and a few links to sports and the web master’s personal pages.
    I am appreciative of the problems of good web design and the work required to keep it up to date. One site that I think is particularly good model for an edu site is that for the MBL where I have done summer research for manny years - http://www.mbl.edu/
    Thanks for your efforts.

  16. Ben Riseling says:

    Marsha our expectation is that folks who are looking for the hospital will click on the top navigation link “Medicine” or use the search bar which is what our tracking data on the current site has confirmed. We also will likely be placing prominent links to pertinent Health System sites and services on many sub pages (Visiting, etc.) as they are developed.

    Your questions about the Banner Bar will be best answered when it is fully developed. I know it is hard to see what the links are on many of these design comps but you will see more detail when the site is in beta form. Keep these comments coming!

  17. Ben Riseling says:


    As mentioned in the presentation, the brand of this new site was intentionally informed by the Undergraduate Admissions viewbooks. The use of black as an accent color on this site (you will see this repeated in future comps) and prominent use of large photos is the most direct link back to the viewbooks design.

    The issue of readability of colored text is certainly valid, but we have included a secondary visual cue (underline on hover) to help any color deficient users determine that the colored items are links. This was not evident in the comps but you’ll be able to see it in action when the site is in beta.

  18. Paul Grantham says:

    Overall, I think the site offers an attractive and content rich experience. The major areas of content seem well defined and easy to locate.

    I would rename the “DukeToday News” as just “Duke News.” DukeToday is specifically an internal site. Having the Duke News page be the source for content seems to make more sense for the home page, which is more external facing. It wouldn’t make sense to include internal articles about parking renewal or benefit changes on the home page. The home page should be reserved for those “knowledge in service to society” stories we want the world to know about.

    I’m curious about how much current web trends/metrics drove the placement of information on the redesign. For instance, I would think that a great deal of web traffic on the home page clicks on the “Employment” link on the current site, but this link is bottom left corner of the redesigned site, which is fairly hard to find. Also, I don’t think the Duke signature is needed at the bottom of the site. The banner seems to carry the brand well enough.

    Last suggestion: the audience-based links may stand out more if there were a “people” icon associated with that area of content.

  19. Ben Riseling says:


    Thanks for the great feedback. Several years’ worth of web traffic data along with peer research and our strategic goals were all used in our navigation decisions. All of our research revealed that placing “like” navigation links together as a working solution. We will also be tracking links and page views on this new site closely once it launches and will be able to make adjustments to treatments as deemed necessary.

    As for the news treatment, we currently promote DukeToday on the home page along with a link and image promoting a specific story targeted to an external audience. The strategy was to keep the source but expand the number of stories. As you say, the content is potentially more important than the source so we’ll take this under consideration as well.

    Keep these comments coming.

  20. Ilene Nelson says:

    Congratulations on the bold new look you’re creating for duke.edu. As someone said last week at the communicators meeting, this design gives the visitor an immediate sense of the Duke dynamism. My concern is that one of the university’s greatest assets, the Libraries, is not placed on the homepage for best effect. Academics, research, global, the arts–areas to which the library is integral–are prominently displayed at the top of the page. Libraries, missing from this lineup, appears at the bottom of the page among Duke Resources, a group of services that are also essential elements of life at the University but less closely identified with the University’s educational mission than the Libraries. Visits to the Libraries’ website, second in number only to visits to duke.edu, are an indicator of the Libraries’ central role at Duke. It would be great to see that centrality reflected more accurately on duke.edu.

  21. Ilene -

    Thank you for your comments. Your point is well taken and we plan to make this change. It will be visible in the next design iteration.

  22. Zack Robbins says:

    Excellent work Denise, Ben, et. al.
    Consistent branding across various institutional sites is often contentious, but I think your solution is elegant, unobtrusive and effective. I hope it will be adopted broadly. Needless to say, obtaining comprehensive input and integrating sub-brands is going to be key. Please let me know how I may be of assistance.

    One small plea which I have made over the years and will reiterate again here: Would it be possible to have a link on the Home page for institutional partners? (Corporations/Foundations/Agencies/etc.) Perhaps something like “Partners” or “Partnering with Duke”?

  23. I agree with the positive comments here. The redesigned main page looks excellent. Plenty of information, but nicely organized and generally pleasing to the eye.

    I’m interested to know how the timetable is shaping up for the redesign for other departments. We had the impression that a lot would be happening over the summer, but we’ve not heard anything at our end.

  24. Ben Riseling says:

    Thank you for the kind words. As for your question about departmental site redesigns those are being led within Trinity by Penny Sanders and Emily Bahna. You can reach them at: penny.sanders@duke.edu or emily.bahna@duke.edu to find out the status for religion.

  25. sandra742 says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  26. Sean Aery says:

    Excellent work, all. This design is vastly superior to the current homepage, and it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into it. There’s one section here that I especially like: the icons in the footer to connect to Duke’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and iTunes content. Nice to see these links included. Many organizations are now using these services but fail to see them as vitally important components to their web presence. Those places are often where you get to see the real Duke in action.

  27. AY Bryant says:

    What a great job. This new design is clean and accessible. Thanks for all of your hard work.

  28. Bradford Gribble says:

    Hi, what blog platform is this? Is it working for you or..? I would really love it if you could answer this question! Thanks in advance!

  29. Ben Riseling says:


    We are using Wordpress for this blog.

  30. Diane Burns says:

    Hi there, awesome website, just want to ask you what spam program you have on your site for comments since I am getting tons on my website.

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  32. Ashley | Avafx Review says:

    To be honest, the design is awesome. I like it very much

  33. Ruthann Indermuehle says:

    love the site its brilliant

  34. Math-Help says:

    I kinda like the previous design better, but I definitely believe that this one is more functional…it flows better