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Confab Higher Ed:"How Do You Make the Good Great? A Case Study on Redesigning the University of Michigan Medical School Website"


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Presentation at Confab Higher Ed 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is an updated version of the IA Summit 2017 presentation, including impact measurements not available during the IA Summit presentation.

After a major overhaul three years ago, the University of Michigan Medical School’s flagship website for prospective students was getting glowing feedback. Great news, right? But … now what? What comes after “good”?

This talk presents a case study of how we dug in to a new round of user research to deepen our understanding of the application journey of prospective medical students and present the next iteration of an already successful site.

With the journalist’s question of “what did you know, when?” we mapped the information-seeking behavior of prospective students, and learned how the lens of time could give us new insights into how to organize and present information to users.

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Confab Higher Ed:"How Do You Make the Good Great? A Case Study on Redesigning the University of Michigan Medical School Website"

  1. 1. HOW TO GO FROM GOOD TO GREAT A case study on redesigning the University of Michigan Medical School website
  2. 2. KELLY DAVENPORT IT Project Manager, Michigan Medicine JACKIE WOLF Web Project Manager, Michigan Medicine @flaxenhaircynic
  3. 3. ANCIENT HISTORY (circa 2012) ● Static HTML. ● So many menus! ● Who’s the audience?
  4. 4. ANCIENT HISTORY (circa 2013) ● We love Drupal! ● Responsive design. ● Cleaned-up architecture. ● Focus on prospective students.
  5. 5. “ In all, I think Michigan absolutely excels compared to other schools in the organization of their website, updating statistics regarding the admissions process, and being available via social media. — Prospective Student
  6. 6. “ This is the best website out of the 25 or so schools that I applied to. — Prospective Student
  7. 7. ::happy tears:: Image:ILickYouEtsyShop/
  8. 8. Now What?!
  9. 9. WHAT DOES ‘BETTER’ LOOK LIKE? Aligning Stakeholders Designing the Experience A Modular Content System
  10. 10. Aligning Stakeholders 1
  11. 11. It’s never just a carousel. Image: Sigmund Freud by Max Halberstadt, 1921
  12. 12. Did Someone Say Redesign? Image: The Scream, 1893, Edvard Munch
  13. 13. Did Someone Say Revamp?
  14. 14. Credit:AbbyCovert,2012
  15. 15. Design the Experience 2
  17. 17. @umichmedschool
  18. 18. How did you prepare for interviews? Did you go back to the website after your acceptance offer? How did you decide where to apply?
  19. 19. Enter your MCAT & GPA Your LizzyM score
  20. 20. Image:Earthrise,NASA
  21. 21. WHICH MICHIGAN? Images: Marcin Szczepanski (l) and Leisa Thompson (r) for the University of Michigan
  22. 22. A Modular Content System 3
  23. 23. Awareness  Research  Decision  Community
  24. 24. MAPPING EXPERIENCE TO TIME Timeframe Topics Mode of seeking Genre of information
  26. 26. OLD REVAMPED!
  27. 27. 12 UNIQUE CONTENT COMPONENTS 1. Media with Text 2. Application Tracker 3. Metrics Blocks 4. Facts & Figures 5. Contact Us Block 6. Related Content 7. News & Profiles Teaser 8. Top 10 List 9. Social Media Block 10. List of Links 11. Pull Quote 12. Responsive Table
  28. 28. OLD REVAMPED!
  29. 29. How Did We Do?
  30. 30. IMPACT: ADMISSIONS DATA 142% increase in early applications First month of 2017 cycle compared to same period last year 31% increase in total applications to date Compared to 5-year average
  31. 31. IMPACT: WHAT APPLICANTS SAY 82% site is “very good” or “excellent” in delivering information tailored to the application cycle 91% site is “very good” or “excellent” overall
  32. 32. “ Looking at the school through the website solidified my decision to apply. It was visually appealing, informative, and really sold me on the unique aspects of the program. — Prospective Student
  33. 33. ::happy tears:: Image:ILickYouEtsyShop/
  34. 34. RESOURCES Some helpful articles on content modularity: • The Language of Modular Design, Alla Kholmatova, A List Apart • From Pages to Patterns: An Exercise for Everyone, Charlotte Jackson, A List Apart • The Battle for the Body Field, Jeff Eaton, A List Apart • Improving the Reading Experience with Content Patterns, Maish Nichani & Christine Oon, Pebble Road