I recently attended a meeting with iFactory (the creative team we’re working with to build the new website) and was able to see some first snapshots of the art direction for the site.
This is an exciting part of the redesign because we all want to see what the final product will actually look like. The team presented 10 examples that we were able to review to determine pieces that best fit the “look and feel” of Harding and really capture the mood, tone, etc. that we want to convey.
You may be thinking, “Okay, I can see how that’s important,” or you may be thinking, “So? It’s just a website. Pick a font, and a color, and let’s get this thing rolling.” In some ways, I was more in tune with the latter mostly because I’m excited for the end result and sometimes get impatient. But after all the meetings I’ve had with iFactory, IS&T, and departments around campus, I’m realizing the importance of getting the “look and feel” of Harding and other details on the website just right.
Some have said that it only takes a student stepping foot on campus for the first time for them to fall in love with Harding. This statement sounds pretty bold, but I know from personal experience it can be true. I was a first-generation Harding student, meaning I didn’t have a long legacy of family who came to Harding before me; I was the first to attend.
I, like so many others, originally had no interest in Harding — it was far from home and I knew nothing about the school and especially Searcy. But fortunately, a friend was planning to visit campus for Summer Experience (now called Summer Stampede), and I was able to hitch a ride and come see what this place is really all about.
When you visit campus, you really get to experience a snapshot of Harding; you get to experience the “look and feel” of what your life would be like here. While a campus visit for a prospective student is ideal, it’s not always possible. Instead, students occasionally must rely on their interactions with their admissions counselors, what their friends have said about Harding, and, as it is 2014, the University’s website.
So even though I still catch myself getting impatient in the design process and the time it takes to get everything as close to perfection as possible, it helps me to evaluate the “look and feel” of Harding and remember why it matters.
Harding can be a life-changing experience, and it has been for many who have come and gone. When I think about all the work put forth for “just a website” and all the time and effort it takes to get all the details just right, I remember the part that it plays in bringing students to our incredible campus.
So keep an eye on the horizon for the future harding.edu, and please be patient as we work to capture Harding in every detail as best we can. It has been a process and a learning experience for everyone involved in this project, but one of the most important things I’ve come to understand is that it’s not about me, and it’s not about you — it’s about them. It’s about our students and what we can do as a University to teach, encourage and inspire them, so that they in turn will do that for others. That’s the “look and feel” of Harding — it’s our community of mission. Fortunately I’m not one of the designers, because I have no idea how any of this would translate into a font or a color. I just know I’m excited to be working alongside those who do, and ultimately to be a part of a team working on a new way to tell our story and show our future students why it’s great to be at Harding.
Bethany Aspey, web content manager