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Office for Information Technology

Navigating the new site

With the launch of the redesigned website we unveil one new and two greatly enhanced tools for navigating the Williams websites. This page describes how to use the new functionality to get to just about any Williams website quickly and easily.

Enhanced search functionality — the page you want is one click away

Enhanced search functionality

In the example above, ‘bio’ was typed into the search box and two types of autocomplete help appear. The phrases in black are possible search terms suggested by our Google search engine. The blue links are sites related to the query. Click one of those and you are sent directly to that site.

The big news is that you can now use the search box found on just about any page to get to most sites in one click. The trick is to type a short search term and then look for the blue links that appear under the search box (see illustration). We’ve seeded the search database with over 200 Williams web pages and tagged them with multiple keywords. Enter “dean” and you will get links to both the Dean of the Faculty and Dean of the College. Enter “eat” and a link to Dining Services appears. Clicking the blue links takes you directly to that site. What if you don’t get the link you want or any link at all? Let us know. This is a work in progress, and user input will only make it better.

The search box can also be used to search the Williams site, of course. When you enter a search term and click the “go” button you are taken to our new results page. Now, in addition to searching web pages, we match your search term against the People directory and our Department & Office directory. Getting a phone number is now as easy as typing a last name into the search box.

Quick Links

Customize your Quick LinksQuick Links is a new tool that allows each user to add a set of their most frequently used links to all pages in the new design. Hover over the Quick Links button to reveal the current list of links. By default you’ll see a dozen or so of the most used Williams web pages. Click the “customize” button and you can remove links you don’t want and add ones you use frequently. You can even add links to non-Williams pages. Changes are saved automatically by your browser, but you can log in to save them to our database and make them available on any browser. Read the full documentation for details on how to make Quick Links work for you.

A-Z Index

We think we’ve made the useful but somewhat neglected A-Z Index a lot better. We have added a filter (aka search box) that lets you quickly narrow down the list of links on the page. Or browse letter by letter without any scrolling using the updated navigation alphabet. Can’t find an important Williams web page in the index? Let us know and we’ll add it.

A-Z Index

Click to go to the A-Z Index.

What happened to the old navigation?

As described on the web pages devoted to the redesign project, two of the primary goals were to make the homepage more accessible to prospective members of the community and to make the site easier to navigate for everyone. Our research showed that our old navigation, with its 70+ links on the homepage and 45 links embedded in drop-down menus, didn’t server either purpose very well because we had to guess which homepage links you most used (based on the links used by others). Now, you can both easily add to your homepage all the links that you want and avoid being distracted by others.

For prospectives, the links tended to be categorized in a way that reflected our internal organization, which isn’t necessarily intuitive to the outside world. For the Williams community, the drop-down menu bar, though useful once you became accustomed to it, had a variety of drawbacks. The most obvious was that even though it contained many links, it omitted far more. The frustration of navigating a multilevel drop-down menu bar is magnified when you don’t find the link you need (but you do find lots of others!). Our new approach is an attempt to give everyone access to a centralized database of Williams sites on every page (via the enhanced search box), and to let everyone customize their lists of links so that the pages they need are at their fingertips (via Quick Links). This functionality is available for internal and external users alike, so our hope is that everyone will have an easier time getting to the content they seek.

We know we haven’t created the perfect solution for everyone, but we feel this is a pretty big step in the right direction. We need your feedback to help us move forward. Please email webteam@williams.edu with any ideas you have for making the site easier to use. And in case you still really want those “especially for” pages, we haven’t deleted them. They’re here, for you to bookmark or add to your Quick Links, and continue to use if you’d prefer.

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