Montgomery College’s homepage recently got a new look and updated features. Changes were made to improve accessibility for students, prospective students, faculty and staff. New features went live last November.
The College’s homepage refresh and user enhancements were completed entirely in house by MC staff, whose goals were to streamline the content and to remove as many accessibility barriers as possible. “This builds upon MC’s track record for accessibility,” said Marc Bolea, web graphic designer at the College, “which was already above industry standards.”
According to Bolea, one of the biggest enhancements was navigation. The new navigation includes drop-down menus that work better for people who rely on keyboards and assistive technology to navigate web sites.
Overall usability got tweaks too, said Timothy Lantz, web applications manager at MC. With feedback showing what was being clicked on, the team moved things around to make it more intuitive from the user’s standpoint.
“We had focus groups, conducted surveys, and looked at Google Analytics to gather data before any changes took place,” said Emily Schmidt, marketing and digital media director. “While the changes helped with accessibility, they also helped us feature more information the College needs to publicize. For example, the homepage now features a video instead of a photo slide show, which better showcases the authentic MC experience.”
The accessibility goalposts keep moving, so we are always going to be chasing those.
“The changes are definitely making an impact,” Schmidt said. She points to MC’s accessibility scores as measured by WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). Scores are now higher than the industry standard, according to Stacy Ford, accessible technology coordinator and a key part of the project.
Ford said the web team embraced accessibility and usability throughout the process. During meetings, they would think deeply about how people with different abilities would interact with the site: “That kind of thinking is not always the norm,” she says. “That’s a cultural thing that happened and I thought it was amazing.”
Going forward, the web team is anticipating the need for additional improvements.
“This is just the beginning,” Lantz said. “The accessibility goalposts keep moving, so we are always going to be chasing those.”
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Bolea shares that philosophy: “Fulfilling accessibility requirements is a dynamic and ever-evolving task, and there are always areas for improvement. We will continue to improve the site and welcome feedback from our users.”
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