The Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) department recently completed a project to launch its new website (ehs.wisc.edu), designed to make it easier to find services, contacts, and resources that help ensure safety on campus in spaces where we work, study, and live.
To do this, EH&S has improved its search functions, made commonly used forms and services more accessible, and added some new features.
Learn more about the EH&S website project: check out the following question-and-answer session with Jake Stottler, Media Specialist at EH&S with the Chemical Safety unit.
Q&A with Jake Stottler
Q: How did the EH&S website project get started?
A: This project started with a recommendation from campus leadership to improve safety on the UW campus. Specific to EH&S, this focused on our trainings, guidance, and services. We needed to make these easy to find and access. Another large goal was to integrate Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) content and present the group as one department.
Q: What was the state of the website before you started?
A: We had two websites with important resources that needed to be merged into one website due to an organizational change in which EOH became part of EH&S.
Before we started the project earlier this year, many areas had important content and trainings buried deep in the site that were difficult to find.
We all agreed that we needed a way to help users find what they need by placing all of the safety trainings, guidance, and services in one central location.
Q: Who was involved in the EH&S website project?
A: At least six campus-wide units actively participated in the process—from planning—to completion. This included: Wiscweb, University Communications, University Marketing, FP&M Marketing & Communications, EH&S website project team, and myself.
Q: What role did EH&S play?
A: Ten EH&S sub-units provided important subject-matter expertise throughout the process, from planning, to development, to review before launch.
Q: How is the new website helping your campus customers?
A: With the site upgrade, we hope EH&S can operate and communicate with its customers on campus in a more clear and concise manner by helping them access safety information quickly and accurately.
We worked hard to provide uniformity across the site by moving away from the previous website structure where individual EH&S units presented information whose level of detail, format, and structure varied greatly from one work unit to another.
We used the mantra “three clicks or less” to design the website for the best possible navigation. For the most part, we were able to stick to that. This has improved the customer experience by making it easier to access training, guidance, manuals, signage, and resource libraries; search the site, and find staff contacts in the directory.
Q: How is the new website helping people at FP&M and EH&S?
A: The new website allows employees from different EH&S units to provide their services and expertise to FP&M staff, across internal units, and with many others in need of them at the university. Now we can share this information in a more organized, centralized way so that everyone can more easily find what they need.
Big-picture, the new website helps EH&S have a more cohesive identity through a more unified web presence and first point of interaction. It was designed to better represent our role as a provider of critical safety services in support of EH&S’ mission:
“to ensure the health and safety of people, buildings, and the natural environment at UW-Madison and associated facilities.”
Q: What were you most pleased about with the launch?
A: I spent time working with a new tool on the website that filters trainings by category. It was good to get that one off the ground. Over 50 trainings are now available in one central location, with more and more added on an ongoing basis.
Q: What was a challenging experience (or learning moment) that you’d like to share from the project?
A: There were many different moments that challenged us throughout this project. This included achieving our “three clicks or less” goal for visitors to find what they needed.
It was also a challenge to build a consensus while many were working remotely. We overcame this by developing ways to gather large amounts of people’s input in a virtual environment. While this would normally have been done in live sessions, we found online tools to support this and stay data-focused.
Organizing the website in a way that makes sense from the user’s perspective was another aspect that challenged our thinking and allowed growth. We took a step back from our prior method of organizing things by EH&S work unit/internal group.
I think the most challenging part of the project has been the merge of EOH and EH&S into one website.
Q: Do you have any shout-outs that others should know about?
A: I would love to thank the entire team that I’ve had the opportunity to work with throughout this process: Christopher Strang, Kelly O’Loughlin, Aaron McCoy, Avelene Adler, Libby Peterek, Linda Kietzer, Joyce Johnston, Julie Schroeder, and the entire EH&S/EOH faculty for providing helpful feedback to allow us to keep shaping this website into its final form.
Getting the project off the ground required many units, departments, and campus collaborators, but much of the work can be credited to Jake Stottler, who had an important role throughout the process. Thank you, Jake, and to everyone involved in the project! Your diligent efforts over the past summer have paid off.