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reimagining the higher education website - columbia college chicago and ifactory


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Columbia College Chicago and iFactory partnered to reimagine Columbia's website in ways that dispensed with conventional paradigms, while introducing data and strategy to the mix.

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  • @Will Vautrain Thanks, Will. I suspect things have indeed improved - I was just noting that those particular metrics are a bit unreliable, and need to be augmented with metrics around task success rates. Good to hear you could be getting those in place.
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  • @Neo Insight Thanks for your comment. It's likely some differences in the metrics are due to increased attention and scrutiny on the new site, internally and externally, but I don't have any evidence the metrics are due to visitor dissatisfaction. One metric I didn't mention in the presentation is average time on page, the latest number I have on that indicates it has increase more than 400% over the same time period in 2013. Considering the conventional wisdom about attention spans on the web, I doubt users would give the new site that much more of their time if we kept failing to meet their expectations. That said, one goal of mine over the next year is to increase our level of sophistication with regard to metrics, to make sure we're doing what we set out to do with our web and content strategy.
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  • Excellent story of a real content strategy, driven by vision. Only one thing concerns me - the metrics. Increased time on site, increased number of pages visited, reduced bounce rate - could all be accounted for by visitors not being able to find stuff. Increased inquiries/month is a strong metric. Did you also track task success - success finding the top content you said potential students were looking for? What other metrics do you have that show the strategy was - and continues to be - successful?
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reimagining the higher education website - columbia college chicago and ifactory

  1. 1. reimagining the higher education website the art of engaging prospectives
  2. 2. will vautrain @vautrain director of digital strategy columbia college chicago pete gaioni @petegaioni director of account services iFactory (Boston)
  3. 3. tintype ■ 17-year olds imagine their future in terms of academic programs and course offerings ■ they know what they want to do with their lives and the 30-year impact of decisions ■ if we can get them to apply, the “fit” doesn’t matter; they’ll learn to love us
  4. 4. frame ■ columbia ■ challenges ■ ideas ■ solutions ■ outcomes
  5. 5. not a pretty picture ■ rising costs ■ low retention, graduation ■ lack of clear transfer paths
  6. 6. tell-tale signs of an assembly-line higher ed website
  7. 7. uninspired ■ “my content” mentality ■ no content strategy (no strategy period) ■ lack of workflow ■ lack of editorial planning & oversight
  8. 8. artful ideas ■ use data to fight subjectivity ■ talk in terms of personas (“would patrick?”) ■ content strategy to inspire and aspire ■ assume mobile
  9. 9. research (2011, n=182) user priorities* ■ programs ■ admissions ■ financial aid * hardest to find
  10. 10. tricky decision-makers
  11. 11. discovery ■ stakeholder interviews ■ strategy articulation ■ town hall
  12. 12. strategy ■ self-identify as “right-fit” and convert ■ consistency - expectations vs. experience ■ understand user's mental model
  13. 13. architecture ■ user personas ■ card sorting ■ sitemap ■ wireframes
  14. 14. content ■ storytelling ■ 100% new academic content ■ purpose of key pages (gathercontent)
  15. 15. design ■ agile, iterative process ■ (design > content > prototype > design)
  16. 16. testing ■ sitemap testing october 2013 ■ prototype testing april 2014
  17. 17. gallery opening
  18. 18. outcomes (total content pages) 36,000 (2013) 944 (2014 - new site) = 97% reduction
  19. 19. outcomes (duration) 2.7 minutes (2013) 16.25 minutes (2014 - new site) = 600% increase
  20. 20. outcomes (pages/session) 2.4 (2013) 3.5 (2014 - new site) = 46% increase
  21. 21. outcomes (bounce) 56% (2013) 41% (2014 - new site) = 27% reduction
  22. 22. outcomes (inquiries/month) 470 (2013) 855 (new site) = 82% increase
  23. 23. hindsight ■ conventional wisdom leads to uninspired work ■ creativity and data aren’t mutually exclusive ■ listen to stakeholders and talk to them ■ content strategy is not content migration ■ centralize governance, decentralize contribution
  24. 24. thank you! questions? @vautrain @petegaioni