Redesign of campus-wide site
UMN Morris is one of seven statewide campuses for the University of Minnesota. Morris is especially known for its high-standards of academics, diverse student body, and high-achieving alumni.
The Morris campus had a series of websites that appeared dated and didn’t reflect the ambitions of the school and its students. New print materials were being generated that didn’t match the look and feel online. Web analytics were lacking and in need of updates. A full redesign of Morris' websites was needed.
Electric Citizen was hired as Morris’ web agency for our experience with higher education website strategy, design and development.
The project was to update and report on site analytics, write new copy for key landing pages, improve site navigation and architecture, and design a new look and feel for the main Morris site. We then applied the changes to the main landing page and Admissions section of the live site.
Morris staff planned to apply the new design direction to all additional sections of the main site themselves, as well as 8 or 9 subsites such as Academics and Give. Once the initial project was complete, however, Morris decided to extend our contract to continue applying changes to the various subsites.
Morris had Google Analytics installed, but without the proper configuration and updates for Google Universal Analytics and Tag Manager. Electric Citizen brought in a partner agency (Augurian) to review current tracking and establish a plan for moving forward. This included both improved analytics and better paid-search plan.
The old Morris website suffered from too many top-level menu choices, while landing pages lacked clear calls-to-action. We held several working meetings with Morris staff–identifying target audiences and their needs and wants, interviewing staff and admissions counselors, reviewing marketing materials, and planning with marketing.
Out of this planning came a clear roadmap for site improvements. We modeled a new sitemap and navigation, wrote new headlines for the home and Admissions sections, and created wireframes and mockups for new page content. Concepts about finding your place and fitting in, along with positive data surrounding students and alumni, became the focus for the redesign.
The new homepage features a bold statement (“Get Started on Tomorrow”), direct links to key audiences, and a grid of recent events and announcements reflecting the activity of campus life. Large images and testimonials of students add credibility and authenticity to the school’s message, while a clear call to action is presented to new students across the bottom of the page (Contact, Visit, or Apply).
The new design is responsive and mobile-first, with an emphasis on useful mobile-menus, links that collapse to shorter select menus, and images that resize and render nicely on higher-res “retina” screens. Content is sectioned into smaller easy-to-scan “chunks”, and visually separated on the page, as opposed to long, text-heavy paragraphs of information.
The “Why Morris” page offers a series of selling points, with easily understood numbers, facts and icons. Pages are designed with large, full-width images, followed by bold titles and summaries.
Each audience group under Admissions (future students, transfers, etc.) had content written, with clear, step-by-step instructions on how to get started, important deadlines highlighted, and requirements detailed.
Our developers trained Morris staff on how to roll out redesigns of additional sections and subsites for Morris, to match the work we started on the main site.
With new analytics tracking in place, Morris will be better positioned to react to what’s working and what’s not, continuously improving the site towards the best possible results.