Art Student Critiques UD’s Rebranded Website

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Emily Bartolone
Contributing Writer

As a fine arts major with a graphic design minor, I live in Fitz Hall. Opinions are openly shared here, as we all are artists with a drive to get our voice out into the world.

This became evident upon the university’s launching of its latest round of rebranding.

UD has gone through this process more than several times since 2011. Being on both the fine arts and graphic design side of the second floor of Fitz daily has exposed me to many — many — opinions on the university’s new website and branding as a whole.

The things I hear range from a disgusted, “Ew…is that the new typeface?” to “I don’t think it’s entirely that bad,” and everything in between. My personal standpoint lies somewhere in the middle, as there are design elements I find interesting and engaging thrown next to systems that seem to make no sense.

Starting off on a more positive note, this whole round of rebranding for the university was centered around “our light.” This theme was described in the university’s video released to go along with the new brand, “Igniting Our Story: The University of Dayton’s Brand.The light is, “the unique spirit that compels us to act. Our students, faculty and staff are keepers of the light, kindling the flame in others, illuminating our work for the world to see….”

I think this idea alone embodies what Dayton stands for; it is heartwarming, inclusive and encouraging. Also, it is broad enough to be applicable to many different people and situations and also truly describes the individuals who make up the University of Dayton in terms of their spirit.

This idea could have been matched with bold graphics, which truly depict the difference between light and dark, making every element within them pop along with the contrast. Yet, looking at the images and designs one can find on UD’s updated website, I feel a slight lack of cohesion and an element of disorganization.

I boil this down to a few causes. The first plainly being there are too many colors. The gradients being utilized in the new website do give a sense of visual drama. However, the normal color scheme we associate with the university, blue and red, has been expanded to blue, red and every single color in between along with different tints and tones of those colors. It’s just too much!

Combine that with typographical mistakes, the second reason I find the new website to lack cohesion, and one can understand why the website seems disorganized. Looking critically at the type, I can pick out definite issues in regards to letter and line spacing, all making me as a designer unhappy.

I do appreciate the modern feel it seems the designers working on this round of revisions were going for.

The front page of UD’s new site doesn’t instantly make me recognize that I am viewing a university’s website, but instead something more along the lines of a successful millennial startup company. I am interested in how this modern feel plays with UD’s deeply-rooted sense of history. I’m not sure if this juxtaposition has been considered during the design of the new website and brand, but playing up the two factors would create an intriguing play on time.

Nevertheless, the new brand is the new brand, and I’m sure the university does not have plans in the near future to spend another large sum of money redoing it. I only wish the amazing design department we have here at this school would have been better utilized in the creation of the new brand, as they are the individuals who I have heard the most feedback from in the past couple months. And rightfully so.