From Alpha to Beta to Live

The university has a new homepage.

Since the summer the university has been working to upgrade its homepage, www.usask.ca.

It started with an alpha phase where a cross-campus team co-designed in a series of sprints informed by their collective user research. The collaborative designs were experimental as we learned as much as we could from users. We wanted others to see what we were working on along the way and every design was publicly available at alpha.usask.ca.

After a number of weeks we evolved the design to a good enough place that we were ready for a beta. The beta existed for a couple of months in a much more stable condition than the alpha. We wanted to really make sure it was good enough to replace the current homepage. It was once again publicly available, this time at beta.usask.ca.

Together the alpha and beta generated over 400 feedback submissions through organized usability testing and organic traffic. That feedback has also been publicly available throughout the project.

The feedback from both the final alpha iteration and the beta showed 80% of users were at a minimum satisfied with the design, with 40% of users rating their experience “delightful”. That told us the design was ready to replace the existing homepage.

The feedback generated by the beta also highlighted some problems we needed to fix. For example, beta.usask.ca went live without a link to Huskie Athletics. This proved pretty unpopular with many users so we made the appropriate adjustment. Similarly, many users were unhappy that the Library link was in a non-intuitive spot. We adjusted that, too.

The digital world evolves constantly and designs are never done. There are always small ways to make something better. We’ll be continuously seeking out those improvements as we strive to make www.usask.ca the best it can be.

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