Redesign of the UCO Course Catalog
The office of Academic Affairs realized that the UCO Course Catalog, one of the most important and crucial documents at a university, needed updating, in both content and layout. Before catalogs and course schedules went online, each university would print booklets listing all the semester course offerings and their meeting days and times. I was asked to serve on the Catalog Committee. Of course, just sitting on the committee was not enough - I also needed to assess, research, and propose a better catalog. I mocked up the front and back cover and several representative interior pages and bound them as if in the catalog with corresponding 'before' pages marked in the current catalog. I explained the rationale to the committee - making the information more user-friendly and easier to navigate and access. The committee liked the changes and implemented them in the catalog. Once it came out, the new catalog was well received across campus.

Target audiences
• Primary: current students looking at degree plans and course descriptions so they could enroll.
• Secondary: prospective students and parents looking at degree options and general info about UCO.
• Tertiary: faculty, advisors, administrators, and staff seeking info.

Changes made to the catalog
• List contents on the back cover and inside back cover.
• Replace single column format with 2 columns.
• Set all copy flush left, rather than justified.
• A more legible font for headings.
• Setting course titles in upper and lower case instead of all caps.
• Putting index titles at the top of each course description page.
• Aligning titles and names better.
• Reducing the number of pages of introductory copy.

Navigation concept

I wanted a navigation device (a list, index, etc.) that was easy to find, use, and access. As a child, I remember reading Reader's Digest. Their covers were redesigned to include the contents right on the front. No flipping through the magazine past the ads to get to it. That smart concept stuck with me. While working at Richland College, I had developed a catalog cover that included pertinent information.

That college didn't adopt the idea, but maybe it could work here to ease navigation. Research showed that most (maybe all) users of the catalog flipped to the index at the back to find what they needed. The idea was to place the categories of content on the back cover so one would not need to find the index. We are conditioned to believe that the front and back covers are decorative - a way to label the item. But, why can't either page be more functional for the user.
I determined a list of contents, even moving some sections and grouping others together. I listed those on the back with dark index tabs printed on each page in the book to coincide with the mark on the back. One could then bend the book slightly and see the black marks denoting the section they were looking for.


Three other layout options for the back cover. Below right: An option for the inside back cover.



Sample Before & After pages

Since nobody, no frequent user, used the existing Table of Contents (they all used the more extensive index in the back of the book), that was deleted. Catalog contents were listed on the back cover.


The personnel above and below could be grouped to fit onto a single page. The alignment format was easier to read.




There is no need to repeat University of Central Oklahoma in the page heading:


Page index headings at the top for easier searching, all copy set flush left, text in U&lc, rather than all caps:

Page numbers to the left of the item:


Dates
Design and production: fall and spring, 2000-01

www.jamesrobertwatson.com/catalog.html