mStoner redesign of BSU.edu

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A case study of mStoner\'s redesign of the Ball State University website (BSU.edu).

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mStoner redesign of BSU.edu

  1. 1. Case Study: Striking the right balance for a large university From left to right: images from Ball State’s award-winning site Like many state research universities, Ball State is a complex organization, providing both wide-ranging opportunities and an Client at a Glance Ball State University intimate learning experience. How can a website convey the big ‣ State-run research university located ideas—and the small ones? in Muncie, Indiana Ball State University got its start more than 100 years ago as the Eastern Indiana Normal School, ‣ More than 20,000 students enrolled, dedicated to educating teachers. Today, it has more than 20,000 students and is home to exciting including 1,500 postgraduates research in many fields. The University offers members of its community a long tradition and a history ‣ More than 170 majors offered of focus on education. At the same time, Ball State is a modern, world-class university, offering ‣ Established in 1918 students cutting-edge opportunities in fields like telecommunications, architecture and teacher education. challenges in scope and organization Project Overview For Ball State’s website (www.bsu.edu), illustrating this contrast was just one of the challenges. Though challenges: its original website had some excellent features in place, mStoner was engaged to relaunch the website ‣ Redeveloping the website and achieve the following objectives: results: ‣ Re-architect the Ball State website to use logical and intuitive information structure that make sense ‣ 2008 Webby Award Honoree to the outside visitor, not just the University ‣ 2008 “Best Overall Site” from the ‣ Infuse the new website with branding messages that help to build the argument “Why Ball State?” eduStyle awards for prospective students and their influencers ‣ Merit Award winner, the Annual ‣ Design a new look and feel that’s aligned with the visual essence of the branding work, and highly Admission Advertising awards, accessible for and usable to BSU’s key audiences Internet/Website category ‣ Implement a new content management system (CMS) that supports distributed authorship and ‣ Applications up 38% in the year decentralized site management without compromising site integrity, and provide the necessary following site launch; while this systems and training for staff to make the new site sustainable long term cannot be attributed solely to the new ‣ Increase applications to the University by helping to promote the value of a BSU education in ways website, the on-campus team feels that are meaningful and persuasive to prospective students and their influencers that it played an important role. ‣ Increase giving by building a strong case for support of the University and by providing essential information to prospective donors who conduct their personal research online
  2. 2. Case Study: Striking the right balance for a large university creating clean organization and architecture To ensure visitors an optimal experience on the site, and to control the messages conveyed, mStoner’s team first created a grid of key audiences and the information they’re looking for, followed by the tasks that they’d like to perform on the site. Our audience grid led to a refined information architecture that streamlines the homepage of the site while allowing visitors to easily dig deeper in many different directions. The IA divides content into topic-based, audience-based, and task-oriented links. Topic-based sections include the general “About Ball State” information, admissions, academics, student life, etc. Audience- based links, based on the visitor types discussed above, provide a different approach to content for students, faculty, alumni, parents, etc. Finally, the task-oriented links cut right to the chase with immediate access to things like the search and directory functionality, giving visitors the option to go straight to the answers that they’re looking for. Our recommendations also included suggestions on blogs and alumni features, an event calendar, and academic templates to ensure consistency throughout the site. a design to bring life to the organization Once the architecture for the site was established, mStoner’s design team went to work creating a design that would not only present the links described above in an orderly fashion, but also would create a lively and attractive interface for site visitors. While the organization of a site determines some of the information that will be presented on the homepage, the real strength of a good design is everything else that the visitor finds on arrival. Ball State had specific messages to convey to site visitors. The balance of being a large university with an intimate focus, for example, or of a long history combined with a vision for the future. The design for Ball State’s homepage conveys these messages in an innovative way, with compelling image pairs that lead to more detail, which in turn lead to pages deeper within the site. Profiles of students and faculty and news items are also used to highlight some of the exciting work and projects that are taking place on campus. The design also establishes the Ball State brand through logo, color palette, imagery and tone, and creates a clear visual hierarchy on the page using visual cues to convey importance.
  3. 3. Case Study: Striking the right balance for a large university content management: the right functionality, the right fit Ball State had a content management system going in to the website redesign project. The university was fortunate to have a good understanding of what a CMS can do, and a relatively large number of people prepared to jump in and participate in maintenance. However, a new system was required to manage all the functionality being imagined for the updated site. Nine out of ten mStoner projects include some form of CMS selection and configuration, so we had a general idea of what would be required when we began work with Ball State. We worked with Ball State to determine a list of specific functionality required for the site, and then assisted them with a selection process that included: pre-qualification, user testing, extended advanced testing, financial review and references, and vendor selection/contract negotiation. mStoner also made staffing recommendation so that the right team would be in place to make use of the CMS. While there was a good deal of work to do in customizing the final choice for Ball State, the new site is running smoothly with active content contribution. the relaunched bsu.edu: award-winning results The new Ball State University website was launched on October 1, 2008. Response to the site was overwhelmingly positive from the Ball State community, from students to administrators. The site has already garnered industry-wide recognition as well: ‣ 2008 Webby Award Honoree ‣ 2008 “Best Overall Site” from the eduStyle awards ‣ Recognition from the “Content Marketing Today” website: “The website and the research it showcases represent the very best of content marketing...A very cool University. An excellent website.” ‣ Merit Award winner, the Annual Admission Advertising awards, Internet/Website category 1800 W. Larchmont, Suite 310 Chicago, Illinois 60613 phone 773.305.0537 fax 773.404.2921 email mStoner@mStoner.com web www.mStoner.com

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