Great Seal of the University of Oregon


An invitation to submit designs for the 1997 redesign of

You are hereby invited to prepare and submit one or more designs for the Fall 1997 redesign of the University of Oregon's world wide web homepage,

If selected, your design will become the default home page for the University of Oregon, replacing the current design. The designer of the prevailing page will receive a certificate of selection, as well as receiving acknowledgment online and in printed materials. Entries will be accepted from both University of Oregon affiliated and non-UO affiliated sources.

To submit a design, send email with the URL of your page or pages to no later than November 3rd, 1997. That message must include certification that all submitted work is original, or if the work includes derivative materials or materials obtained from another source, that all materials are used with permission.

All submissions become the property of the University of Oregon.

Selection of a winning design will be done by the University of Oregon, and the decision of the University is final.


The University of Oregon would like to simultaneously satisfy a number of somewhat mutually contradictory design criteria; we recognize that it will be impossible to satisfy all desired criteria simultaneously, but we would nonetheless like you to be aware of what we'd like (even if it may be impossible to simultaneously achieve all desired goals in a single design).

  1. Load Time: The page must load `fast.'

    While many of our users will be directly connected via the campus network at ethernet speeds, a substantial number of users will be coming in via modems or via remote sites that may be operating at or near capacity. If the page loads too slowly, users will balk and refuse to wait for the University's home page to load.

    Thus, the new design should not load any slower than the current design, and should ideally be perceptibly faster than the current design. A good target load time is 15 seconds. (Load time should be measured from opening the page to the time when the page finishes loading, not from the time the page is opened until it is initially usable to at least some minimal extent.)

    Also note: we have previously tried a page that split visitors into low and high bandwidth designs; this proved unpopular and impracticable, and should not be a component of designs submitted under this competition.

  2. Graphic Appeal: The page must incorporate graphical elements in an aesthetically appealing way.

    As the University's primary online "face," its homepage needs to have a pleasant and welcoming look consistent with the prevailing best current practices as employed on web pages at other research universities. We expect that there will be at least one graphic highlighting a picturesque aspect of the University of Oregon, its faculty/students/staff, or the State of Oregon as an integral part of the home page. Graphic elements shall be integrated in a coherent way with the substantive content of the page. Both `large' graphics and `lots of tiny graphic elements' have proven problematic in past designs and should not be part of designs submitted under this competition. All images should use the minimum number of colors required to produce a satisfactory appearing image.

  3. Suitability For Use With a Variety of Browsers: The page must work on all commonly used browsers.

    While Netscape is the most popular browser currently accessing the University of Oregon (over 90% of all hits to come from some version of Netscape), we do also have a non-negligible number of users here and elsewhere who are using other browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Lynx, Mosaic, etc.

    We also need and want to insure that the University of Oregon's home page is accessible (pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act) for all users, including those using screen readers and other assistive technologies.

    Any non-standard extensions employed must degrade in a graceful and non-catastrophic fashion if viewed using a browser that does not incorporate those extensions. You are particularly urged to beware of problems that may arise from pages incorporating frames, tables, imagemaps, fixed width design elements, pages that require a browser to honor requests for a particular font or font size, etc. (We're not saying you can't successfully use those technologies, just that you need to be careful to use them in a way that will prove to be satisfactory across all common browsers)

  4. System and Network Friendly: The page may not result in disproportionate system or network load.

    Because the UO web server gets in excess of half a million hits per day, it is important that any new page design not cause disproportionate system or network load. System load includes server CPU time, physical memory requirements, I/O bandwidth, and network bandwidth. Particularly note: we are VERY interested in having the new design be "cache friendly;" design elements that interfere with web caches (such as NLANR's Squid cache) will be viewed unfavorably.

  5. Page Audience Diversity: The page must satisfy both on campus and off campus users.

    We want an integrated page that will work for both on campus and off campus users. That is, it should meet the needs of all audiences who may visit the University of Oregon home page, including:

    We have seen some institutions that offer different web pages for different audiences, such as one page for on-campus users, another page for off-campus users, etc. We don't want that. We want a single integrated design that will be functional for all identified audiences. Parallel web trees tailored for different audiences should not be submitted.

  6. Required Content Exposure: Institutional critical content must receive prominent display.

    By this we mean that selected content items must be easily found and receive prominent display on the new design.

    The items that fall in this category are those that have proven to be popular with individuals visiting the web site, or items that have been identified by the administration as having high priority for exposure and emphasis. Items may be added or deleted from that list, and an optimal design will facilitate (or at least not hinder) such modifications.

    The order and description/labelling of institutional critical content is within the scope of the designer's discretion in preparing his/her submission. For the purposes of your design, assume that institutional critical content will include:

  7. Institutional Themes and Motifs: The pages should incorporate familiar UO themes, motifs, colors, etc.

    The University's web pages should integrate well with the University's established image, including employing familiar UO themes, motifs, colors, fonts, logos, etc., rather than employing discordant or disassociative imagery. For example, use of the school's colors (green and yellow) is preferred to other color schemes (such as black and orange, say); use of Palatino is preferable to use of other fonts since Palatino is the University's standard display type face; use of images from campus or Eugene is preferable to use of images from Portland, other parts of Oregon, stock photography; etc. At the same time, we recognize that green and yellow can be difficult colors to effectively incorporate in web page designs; we know that Palatino is somewhat fragile as display fonts go; and some UO motifs have been overused to the point of having become somewhat tired.

  8. Extensibility and Replicability: The design of the home page should be extensible to 2nd and 3rd tier pages.

    The University has in excess of 85,000 pages on over 160 distinct web servers; in an ideal world, all official institutional pages would have a common "look and feel" that derives from and is congruent with the University's home page. For that to be achievable, the look and feel of the University's home page must be capable of distillation into a readily followed `recipe' that can be used by web designers responsible for departmental pages, individual pages, etc. Pages designed using special software tools or techniques not generally available, or pages which require artistic judgement and finesse to replicate or adapt are unlikely to be replicable/extensible to 2nd and 3rd tier institutional pages, and should be avoided.

  9. Cleanliness of the Design: The design should eschew clutter/unnecessary design elements.

    People will look at the University's home page frequently, so it should be graphically clean, with a minimum of clutter and unnecessary design elements. Be particularly careful to avoid visually busy backgrounds, unneeded rules and boxes, blinking or animated elements, fill patterns that cause Moire effects, use of too many typefaces or type sizes, scrolling Javascript text in the frame of the window, etc. We also don't want you to exploit cookies as part of your design, nor do we want to see a counter included on any page submitted in response to this request for submissions. [Think of this design element as "We want a high signal-to-noise ratio."]

  10. Degree of Page Dynamicism: The page should make provision for items that can be updated.

    We will be pleased if a design includes a set of images (or other design elements) that can be changed over time; for example, a design might be accompanied by a couple of dozen images that can be rotated through the page over an effective page lifetime of six months to a year. (We do not want a different image to be loaded every time the page is reloaded; we want the image choice to be something that we can manually control.)

    We are also interested in the ability to include a single item as a "message of the day."

  11. Flat Vs. Hierarchical Design: Don't Bury Content Three Levels Deep

    We generally prefer a flat document architecture to a highly hierarchical document architecture. On a related note, we dislike pages that have been "hyper chopped" into many little "pagelets," each only a paragraph or two long.

    Checklist A: Items That Must Not Be Present:

    Checklist B: Items That Must Be Present:



Send email to:

Remember that submissions must be received by November 3rd, 1997.

Good luck!

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