New Style Home Page for Drew University features “Minimal Navigation”
Does being different from other higher education websites by itself create a competitive advantage? If that’s the case then Drew University indeed has advanced past its competitors by using a “minimalist” design approach.
What is minimalist design strategy? A definition from the Nielsen-Normal Group in The Characteristics of Minimalism in Web Design: “A minimalist web-design strategy is one that seeks to simplify interfaces by removing unnecessary elements or content that does not support user tasks.”
Note a key element here: A minimalist goal is to “support user tasks.”
The agency that worked with Drew on this site, Capture Higher Ed, says this about minimalist design:
“Although mega menus were all the rage a few years back, there’s been a shift to minimal and even hidden navigation elements. This is taking a cue from mobile, where most of Gen Z is already viewing websites. Some institutions, including Capture partner Drew University, have already adopted a minimal navigation for their main websites. Declutter your homepage by removing your traditional navigation menu and testing a minimalist navigation button like in the example below.”
Yes, navigation is hidden…
On mobile, the minimalist design does hide the regular navigation. Indeed, as the page first opens it hides just about everything on the home page. (More is visible from a desktop or laptop computer but the goal here is a more effective site on mobile, “where most of Gen Z is already viewing websites.”)
Eventually visitors will see a “Launch Your Life” marketing message, the first of 5 content headings and 5 buttons to review each major element on the page:
- Launch Your Life.
- Let’s be clear – college tuition is too high.
- Learn it. Use it.
- Plug in.
- Put the “hire” in higher education.
Home page content is recruitment-oriented. Each piece is designed for impact with future students. Which one might be most appealing? That would be easier to know if each one were available to scan right from the start. In this format, that’s not possible. On mobile, Drew wants you to see each one in order.
What about top tasks that future students have, especially a review of available academic programs? You can’t see that pathway from the 5 elements here. If mobile visitors persist past “Launch Your Life” they will find content on affordability (a 20% tuition reduction in 2018 and information on merit scholarships and low debt loads) and job prospects after graduation.
A traditional menu is available to people who open the hamburger symbol on the page. Follow the “Academics” path and you’ll find a list of the academic programs.
On Mobile… a “slow” 3.6 seconds to download
Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.
Drew University has a “slow” home page measured by Google: 3.6 seconds. Minimalist design does not, by itself, lead to a faster site.
Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website. How does your home page on mobile compare to the 3.6 seconds of Drew University?
Follow the Link of the Week…
Experience a most unusual design format at the Drew University home page.
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