Designing a New User-Centric Website - Lessons Learned

premiumlexicographerInternet and Web Development

Dec 8, 2013 (4 years and 5 months ago)


College background

Old Web site

Project research

New Web site development


Lessons Learned

Largest community college system in Missouri
serving an area of about 700 square miles;
created by area voters in 1962

Four campuses, three education centers

Transfer, career and developmental programs

credit continuing education courses

Various workforce development initiatives

A “League for Innovation” institution

26,000 credit students each semester

40,000 non
credit each year

31,000 workforce development students

130 credit programs

57 workforce development programs

1,800 faculty (420

3,500 employees

Issues and problems
with old site

Developing a new
brand identity for the

“One College”,

not a well defined
identity on the web

Site is difficult to navigate

and to find

16,000 pages with no standard

Internal use content mixed in with other

Pages did not follow best practices for web

Most pages did not comply with our loosely
defined college standards

Common to have over 2,000 broken links

compliance with ADA requirements

date and conflicting content

No unified appearance

brand identity was
fragmented at best to almost non

No workflow, editing or review process

Trying to represent the constant of the
wide college while maintaining the
uniqueness of each campus

Taking content from the existing 16,000
pages to distill the items of need to audiences

Meetings at each campus to introduce project
and seek cooperation and support


Audience research conducted by
contracted firm

Current and prospective students

focus groups
and online surveys

Continuing Education and high school guidance

focus groups

Key administrators and faculty influencers


Larger sample of faculty and staff

random, online


Hub for student news and communications

Access to all programs and classes

Class availability, times/room numbers,
changes, grades

Do everything online:

Pay for classes

Get parking passes

Get books

“Not have to go to the campus”

Ervin Marketing Report, May 2006




Student Resources


Class Schedules




College Catalog


can’t find what they are looking for

Ervin Marketing Report, May 2006

The existing public website will be replaced in
its entirety

The new website will focus on the needs of
external constituents

and will incorporate
the College’s new marketing, branding and
image campaign

Provide an informative, effective marketing tool

Provide for the needs of current students

Align with the college strategic mission

To increase enrollment at the college

Simplify the experience for students

Management, faculty, staff and
administrators given the ability to develop
and update content to web

The contents of the new website will be
developed by the outside vendor

A second vendor will take responsibility for
building the initial Web site

The new web site will utilize the Serena
Collage web content management system to
simplify the publishing process and enable a
workflow driven web authoring environment

Rebrand the site to project STLCC as one

Build a site that allows visitors to select a
path based on personal needs

Create a new web content delivery system:

Easy to update

Reinforces web standards

Provides a consistent user experience

Flexible to respond to changing needs

Huge change in the culture of the way the
website was maintained

Shifting responsibility from campus to
Community Relations and web coordinators

Web Authoring as a distributed responsibility

Identify person(s) responsible for web


(navigation, structure,

Ad Hoc Web Advisory Committee

played a big role

Organized by function rather than content

Frequently accessed content on home page

Without trying to include everything

Automate consistency and standards
through templates and required elements

Rich text editing eliminates the need for
HTML or web editor experience

Manage workflows with the combination of
task management and a review/approval

Allow authorized users to easily add or
update content “anytime, anywhere” through
a browser

Roll pages back to a previous version as

Schedule content replacement or removal

SungardHE Banner (ERP) Self

BlackBoard LMS

grown applications

Course Schedule

Schedule of Late
Starting Courses

Employee Directory

Continuing Education Registration

Student Application

Sexual Harassment, FERPA, and Diversity Tutorials

New system

Windows Live student e

New website went live
March 9, 2008

In order to have a go
live date, a “line” had
to be drawn somewhere on what content
would be part of the initial deployment

We used the Ad Hoc Web Committee to develop
basic guidelines for what was to be included for
Phase 1

There are some whose content was left out that
felt their content was too important to not be

Representing a district
wide college (“One
College” brand) while presenting the
uniqueness of each campus.

Underestimating timeline for content and
technical development

Working with several different vendors

Focus can get sidetracked with input from
concerned parties

New positions, new employees

Deploying new WCMS in conjunction with new

Internal audiences

time it takes to

delays caused by summer

Managing expectations of new site

Launched with 1,600 vs. 16,000 pages

“Phase 2” almost completed

Corrections and updates

Added over 1250
pages based on feedback and metrics analysis

Development of interactive, more dynamic

WCMS contributor training

Development of department and “academic
discipline” pages

Implementation of enrollment management


Variable web content/print

Continue to add content that was not
included in the first two phases that fit the
objective of the new site

Revival of the Web Advisory Committee

student portal


Blogs/Social networking

Continued focus on brand management

The overall goal of project of creating a user
centric website was achieved

The new website contributed to the goal of
increase in enrollment

Phase I rolled out smoothly

National Council for Marketing and Public

Silver Award

The use of an outside consultant

Provided confirmation and justification for taking
on this huge project

Justified funding for project

Identified the need for dedicated positions

Active involvement of the faculty and staff

Use of outside vendors for web development

Good internal cooperation between technical
and content

Integration of home grown apps successful


edit, review and deploy functions
went smoothly

Implementation of AP style

Setting a deadline and trying to stick to it

forced us to make some tough decisions to
meet that deadline

Outside vendor

Web development team needed a lot of effort to get
up to speed with our WCMS

Vendor used for writing of content never really hit
the mark


Issues integrating applications

vendor never got
a handle on this

User interface

edit function not as “friendly” as

Many support calls from “occasional”

Task management is cumbersome and does not
match our business processes

Uncertain future of vendor support

Required desktop settings not necessarily
compatible with campus settings

In house team undermanned

made meeting
deadlines very challenging

Content needs to be re
written in a more
“user friendly” style

easier to read

Better communication/feedback process with
faculty and staff during development and

Faster implementation of additional/missing

Departments & academic disciplines

Dynamic content

Hard coding of static information

vendor not familiar with internal resources for
dynamic content

We had more hardware than was necessary

ASP & ASP.NET integration with CMS not
realized until after learning more about WCMS

Internal technical staff would have benefitted
from earlier training

Identifying and training more content
contributors earlier

The battle of the home page

Next to the navigation, this was the biggest focus
of discussion

Too much ended up being included making the
page very busy and, to many, unappealing

Many links were represented by both buttons and
text links

Some groups failed to take ownership of

Failed to maintain active Web Advisory

George Sackett

Web Content Supervisor

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