Inside Brown University’s Brunonia Platform

Amanda Kohn by on May 18, 2017

In March, Brown University introduced a new Brunonia platform designed to help alumni manage their profiles, search events, make gifts and access giving resources (e.g., planned giving options) within a single website. The site provides a mix of both public and private content repurposed from the former separate alumni and giving websites in a more appealing tile layout. Previously, the separate alumni sites were unresponsive, relied on a horizontal navigation menu and incorporated few images on text-heavy pages. Though the centralized site represents an overall improvement, its unconsolidated tier navigation menus may cause findability issues for those not familiar with the site.

The university presents the new Brunonia through an introductory lightbox that appears on first access to explain notable website capabilities, including its filterable Brown stories and event search functionalities. The new site employs responsive design and dynamic pages with large tiled images, offering a consistent experience across multiple devices, browsers and screen sizes.

Introductory Lightbox

Brunonia continues to reflect the university’s red, white and brown color scheme. The homepage incorporates recent news articles, stories and upcoming events that users can filter by category or subject using the expandable Filter News, Stories & Events section at the top of the page. The sidebar navigation menu consists of two main expandable sections: Alumni and Giving. The Alumni section links to five subsections—Events, Community, Careers, Services and Volunteer—and the Giving section consists of seven subsections: BrownTogether, Brown Annual Fund, Parent and Family Giving, School of Engineering, School of Public Health, Sports Foundation and Warren Alpert Medical School. Each link within the Alumni and Giving sections directs users to the corresponding overview page with its own second-tier navigation menu. The myriad tiled sections on overview pages may overwhelm users, and the secondary navigation menu is only accessible within the overview page. Brown should consider combining the sidebar and secondary navigation menus throughout the platform to eliminate the navigation issues; a sitemap in the footer could also improve site navigation.

New Public Site Brunonia Homepage (Truncated)


Filter News, Stories & Events Expandable Section

The private online community is accessible from the silhouette icon within the header, which directs alumni to the login page. After logging in, alumni can access a dashboard flyout with eight sections of quick links to view and update their profile, alumni directory, events, communities, volunteer opportunities and other alumni resources (e.g., transcripts). Navigating away from the dashboard reloads a new private site header consisting of the silhouette icon, which opens the dashboard, and a Give Now link. A secondary left sidebar navigation menu is also accessible within select sections of the private site and consists of four sections: Profile, Directory, Bravo Tools and Subscriptions.

Private Site Dashboard

Despite its slight navigational flaws, overall, Brunonia creates a convenient one-stop shop for users to access alumni and giving resources, including the crucial alumni directory and giving form.

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About The Author

Amanda Kohn

Amanda is a Senior Research Associate for Alumni Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more