Last week, we covered the changes to the Students page, but more changes have come to the Ursinus website. Besides the revamped look, the digital team has taken the school’s website to a higher level.
Erin Hovey, manager of Digital Content at Ursinus College, says that it is “high time” for Ursinus’ website redesign. Hovey explains that colleges typically overhaul their websites about every three years, and for Ursinus, it has been almost five years since the last redesign.
Hovey explains that Ursinus uses White Whale Web Services to design the website. White Whale’s website (whitewhale.net) states that the firm’s client list is comprised of “some of the biggest, the smallest, and the most interesting colleges and universities in the world.” The list includes universities such as Brown University, NYU, and Syracuse University.
Along with the utilization of White Whale, Ursinus requires a great deal of editorial help from students and staff across campus. Hovey states that there are over 130 editors on campus, all from different departments and organizations taking part in managing and creating the content for their respective pages.
Many changes have been made to Ursinus’s campus, and the website redesign will reflect this. Hovey gave an example of the newly constructed IDC building, which they hope to integrate more completely and effectively into the Science Department’s pages.
Hovey also explained that, while many students already attending Ursinus do use the college’s website a lot, they mainly only spend time on the Students page. The overall website, and thus the pending website redesign, is targeted at prospective students looking into Ursinus for the first time, searching for a school that is right for them and their future prospects.
On the website, Hovey points out that there are over 2,000 pages made specifically for the utilization of prospective students. These pages act as one of Ursinus’ main tools against competing colleges. Hovey explains that the redesign will make sure that text is optimized for search engines. That way when prospective students search “Ursinus” or any other array of competing liberal arts colleges up on Google, the college is sure to pop up.
Chief Communications Officer Thomas Yencho adds that in the redesign, another one of the goals is to make sure that the content marketing is quicker and more effective, helping prospective students easily navigate the website and find the information they are looking for at a swift pace. The overall goals of the website redesign, Yencho states, is to optimize organic search and to drive the website’s traffic in the right direction.
Hovey expects that Ursinus will choose a design for the website with White Whale in November or December. They will, however, have to be careful about timing the redesign, Hovey points out, because prospective students will be looking at the website soon, searching for the information that will help them decide on their academic plans.
In a way the website redesign is a balancing act— the time for an overhaul is fast approaching— yet at the same time deciding when exactly to commence the project can be immensely difficult, so as not to impact the experiences of prospective students.
A complete website redesign is not an easy task; Erin Hovey, Thomas Yencho and the entire digital content team have a hefty project on their hands. However, they have a clear direction in which to take the project.