Designing a New User-Centric Website - Lessons Learned

premiumlexicographerInternet and Web Development

Dec 8, 2013 (3 years and 6 months ago)

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College background


Old Web site


Project research


New Web site development


Implementation


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


Non
-
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
FT
)


3,500 employees


Issues and problems
with old site


Developing a new
brand identity for the
institution


“One College”,

but
not a well defined
identity on the web
site


Site is difficult to navigate


and to find
content


16,000 pages with no standard
navigation


Internal use content mixed in with other
content


Pages did not follow best practices for web
design


Most pages did not comply with our loosely
defined college standards


Common to have over 2,000 broken links


Non
-
compliance with ADA requirements


Out
-
of
-
date and conflicting content


No unified appearance


brand identity was
fragmented at best to almost non
-
existent


No workflow, editing or review process


Trying to represent the constant of the
district
-
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


2005


Audience research conducted by
contracted firm


Current and prospective students


focus groups
and online surveys


Continuing Education and high school guidance
counselors


focus groups


Key administrators and faculty influencers


phone
interviews


Larger sample of faculty and staff


random, online
survey


Registration


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


84.7%
-

Registration


82.4%
-

Student Resources


81.8%
-

Class Schedules


77.9%
-

Blackboard


60.3%
-

College Catalog



29.9%
-

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
our
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
-
site


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
college


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
authorship


Taxonomy
-

(navigation, structure,
organization)


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
system


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


Roll pages back to a previous version as
needed


Schedule content replacement or removal


SungardHE Banner (ERP) Self
-
Service


BlackBoard LMS


Home
-
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
-
mail



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
included





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
site


Internal audiences


time it takes to
communicate


delays caused by summer
schedules


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
content


WCMS contributor training


Development of department and “academic
discipline” pages


Implementation of enrollment management
tools


CRM


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


my.stlcc.edu

student portal
-

SharePoint


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
Relations


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


WCMS


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



WCMS


Issues integrating applications
-

vendor never got
a handle on this


User interface


edit function not as “friendly” as
desirable


Many support calls from “occasional”
user


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
subsequently


Faster implementation of additional/missing
content


Departments & academic disciplines


Dynamic content




Hard coding of static information


outside
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
capability


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
content


Failed to maintain active Web Advisory
Committee



George Sackett

Web Content Supervisor


gsackett@stlcc.edu

www.twitter.com/George



gsackett@stlcc.edu


Presentation is available online at:


http://www.stlcc.edu/presentations/