We are proud to announce our longest running project, (started in November 2007), has finally launched! A complete overhaul of the School of Business website. And when I say complete overhaul I mean it, I don’t think there is a single paragraph that is the same. The work paid off, the user experience has improved dramatically and the entire site reads as if was written by a single unified voice.
As you can see from the first screenshot, the left hand menu is huge, unorganized and frankly not helping the visitor find what they came for. We set out to change all of that, we went through three complete navigations over the course of three years. Each were based on the best practices at the time and the current state of the School of Business. Needless to say a lot has changed in the past three years at not only the school but also the university.
The consensus for the final navigation was to use a task based navigation. We also made sure to pull out the list of degrees to the homepage for quick access.
The old homepage didn’t have much feeling to the visuals, it had a rotating image in the header but it didn’t represent the school; it was mainly just some random buildings and people walking. The purpose of the new website was to give it a personal feel. So we focused on people and stories, not buildings. The main promotion area rotates photos of students, the spotlight feature rotates through students, faculty and alumni. Those spotlights are also spread throughout the website in their appropriate areas.
The overall design of the site is frankly not something we would publish if we started today but since it was approved over two years ago we are working with what we have approved. It was important to get the site out (for various reasons) and start making changes after the fact. Don’t get me wrong, it is well branded and matches some of the School of Business print material and that was the goal.
Moving to the CMS
A major initiative of the new website was to move it to the main university content management system. The move came with a ton of added functionality that wasn’t in their previous CMS. I am not going to detail, but it is all in flexibility and integration with digital signage and all other sorts of campus wide systems.
Having faculty information integrate with the website was also important. Currently the school of managing their faculty profiles through software provided by an outside vendor. We needed to ensure that content is only entered once and synced everywhere. We would typically try to use our CMS as the authoritative source for all web content then spread it to outside systems. In this case we had to reverse that flow. The outside system currently has far more information that we want to handle in the CMS so we are pulling in their profile in to the site so everything stays in sync.
Extending the content being produced daily to the campus community was step two for the new website. On the right you will see an example of the School of Business digital signs that are up in their building. It pulls directly from the website. It is important to have this content only entered and edited in one location. We made sure this was possible.
In addition their news, events, photos and promotions now make it into the Today@Wayne newsletter.
Looking to the future
With the growing list of features and abilities of the website comes the needs to ensure it is always being updated. The CMS and new architecture allows for multiple people at the school to publish content. This removes the burden from a single individual and encourages departments to publish more often. Knowing their content will reach more people the time to format it for the web is well spent. The website now has a proper analytics package installed and we are monitoring it every day to ensure it is accomplishing the goals we determined.
View the School of Business website at: http://business.wayne.edu/