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The Context

The SVA Alumni Affairs and Development team manages our own section of the SVA website. Working within SVA’s CMS, we have nearly full autonomy when it comes to content and structure, but we are limited to the visual design and layout dictated by the College’s brand identity. Our common goal has been to position the Alumni Affairs and Development section as a point-of-entry into the alumni community and an information resource for alumni that is quick and easy to navigate. I am currently responsible for all content that falls under Alumni Affairs, while my colleague is responsible for content related to the Alumni Society, an independent, non-profit corporation that administers scholarships to current SVA students.

The Problem 

The Alumni Affairs section navigation was poorly organized and lead to confusion among page users.

My Approach

I identified two reasons that possibly lead to this confusion.


First, the phrase “Alumni Affairs” is an internal phrase used to distinguish alumni engagement activities from the Alumni Society. But does “Alumni Affairs” mean anything to users not familiar with our lingo? For instance, would an alumnus looking for information about their benefits know right away that it could be found in the Alumni Affairs section, rather than the Alumni Society? Not necessarily.

Two, the hierarchy of the Alumni Affairs and Development section was such that the parent page, Alumni, had a subpage for Alumni Affairs and Alumni Society. Under the Alumni Affairs subpage was where all of our informational content lived. But the Alumni page and the Alumni Affairs page had the exact same content. This meant the Alumni Affairs page added an additional step in a user’s journey to their desired information. 

I created a bare-bones wireframe of the Alumni Affairs web pages, so I could experiment with the page organization while still having a sense of what the page looked like. 

The Solution

I removed the Alumni Affairs page from the navigation and brought out the subpages beneath it. These subpages, Events and Programs, and Benefits and Resources, now have prominent and equal placement in the Alumni Affairs and Development page’s navigation. They are named to reflect exactly what they are, so the user doesn’t have to try to guess where something like an upcoming event or a discount might be found. I also created accordion menus to organize the content on each of those pages in a logical and easy-to-find way.

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