A major top-to-bottom website redesign like Wooster.edu went through last year is not standard. Sure, it happens once in a while, but a continuous, more organic evolution is much more common and what we hope to see happen to Wooster.edu over the coming years.
Last summer, our new website kicked off with a colossal homepage filled with an intricate interactive Flash-based collage created to spark curiosity and exploration in our perspective student audience. A dozen keyword, identified through extensive market research, representing the Wooster experience led users to more in-depth information and exploration of the Wooster experience. Areas of study were made more accessible in a “ticker” stretching the width of the page. The page finished off with a three-column row highlighting alumni profiles, Wooster’s status in U.S. News’ Top 10 schools for Teaching Excellence, an “Apply to Wooster” button, and our news and events feeds.
Since launch, we’ve been gathering statistical data and listening to your feedback and have come to some positive conclusions. The redesign was a success! Users approve of the overall look of the site, and more importantly, are finding the information they need quickly and easily. But, we’ve had our growing pains.
Analytics also brought to light the fact that less than half a percent of our visitors were actually clicking on the collage. Feedback also questioned whether the collage accurately portrayed the Wooster experience. Messaging concerns, functional concerns and lack of flexibility with the homepage led us to conclude we needed to evolve.
Our mission: To turn Wooster.edu’s homepage into a flexible, interactive, eye-catching page that incorporates larger imagery, video, and our growing social media presence while increasing flexibility and utilizing the same messaging that resonated so well with Wooster’s more recent incoming class.
To accomplish this, we cleaned the slate and brought back items that worked one at a time. Our main navigation and header bar as well as our footer remain unchanged. We brought back our Areas of Study ticker and positioned it in nearly the exact same spot. The “Apply to Wooster” button was promoted to a more prominent position above the Areas of Study ticker. The bottom row of columns was optimized. We consolidated news and events into one feed and reduced its size, added a 4th column to the row giving us more flexible real estate for highlighting campus events and items of interest, and we modified the Alumni Spotlight column to allow for alumni as well as student profiles.
The most prominent change occurred with the removal of the collage. We replaced it with two columns, the larger of which holds rotating features in the form of videos or images linking to stories. Videos can be opened directly over the homepage. Four or five features rotating on a timer will be regularly updated to keep our homepage fresh. The smaller column to the right houses a new social media widget. This tabbed feature streams feeds from the College of Wooster Facebook fanpage, WoosterEdu Twitter feed, WoosterEdu YouTube channel and all new posts to the Scotblogs.wooster.edu blogging server. Cool, eh?
Be part of the conversation
Get in the habit of checking our YouTube channel (and hey, maybe even subscribe) for lots of great new content produced by Alex Winkfield, videographer. If you haven’t already, “like” the College of Wooster Facebook fanpage. Tried Twitter yet? Give it a shot. We use all these methods to keep you up-to-date.
As always, send your ideas and feedback to the Webmaster.