University of Redlands Case Study

University of Redlands website

For three years I served as the Web Director for the University of Redlands. A portion of that time I also served as Creative Director. Prior to attaining the leadership creative roles within Marketing and Strategic Communications, the University website did not accurately portray the culture of the University and the technology behind the website was unfit for content management use and maintenance. Under my leadership, I was able to redesign the website taking a strategic approach to every decision made. It was during this time, I also co-managed a team within the Information Technology department to implement a new content management system to support the content needs of our editors. Lastly, a very important initiative of this website was to make sure the site was mobile friendly and would respond appropriately to various technology and mobile devices.
Learn more about my content management involvement by clicking the logo below.

Creative Video Production and Editing

The University of Redlands is a beautiful campus. One of the comments often heard when interviewing prospective students, parents, and current students was how beautiful the campus is. Knowing that this is one of our unique selling points which wasn’t represented well on the prior website or even in our print-marketing materials, I decided that showcasing the beauty of our campus should be priority #1. The video above is an example of my creative direction and vision to showcase the campus from a broader perspective and different point of view. I launched this video with the new website and it was an immediate success with most current-students, faculty, staff and new visitors. I was also responsible for editing the video, which involved compressing and converting the video into a web safe format for viewing.

Photography, Typography and Perspective

Photography and typography plays a very important role on how a campus is perceived. My intent was to elevate the quality of our campus-wide photography and bring appropriate typography and messaging into the photography as a way to tell a story. The image you see above is an example of what a content marriage could look like when you blend photography, typography and messaging in an effective way.

Homepage image banner example

An example of Imagery that tells a story

News and Events

An example of the News and Events module

Inspirational Boards and Themes

In an effort to convey the true spirit and essence of the University, I interviewed various on-campus and off-campus groups as a way to learn about their experience and affinity to the University. Interviews involved current students, alumni, parents, faculty, administrators and graduate students. The 5 primary themes that came out of my interview experience were location, campus, tradition, fun and community. The “community” theme was the one theme that rose to the top and resonated with most of the University community. The inspirational boards above are the visual representations used to convey a particular brand theme (see above).

Web Information Session Presentation

My presentation given to the University of Redlands community, stakeholders and decision makers.
Click here to view presentation

Web Advisory Committee

Associate VP of Enrollment Services, College of Arts & Sciences

Executive Director of Information Technology Services

Chief of Staff and Liaison to the Board of Trustees and President’s Office

Endowed Chair, Director of Writing, College of Arts & Sciences – Dean’s Office

Director of Leadership & Involvement, Student Life

Manager of Web Strategy and Interactive Services, University Communications

Artist Professor, School of Music

Associate Vice President of Enrollment Engagement of Adult and Professional Education

  • Vice President of Enrollment, Enrollment Management
  • Manager of Web Development Services, Information Technology Services
  • Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Communications
  • Chief Communications Officer, University Communications
  • Dean of Education
  • Creative Director, University Communications
  • Visiting Assisting Professor and Practicum Coordinator, School of Education
  • Director of Library Services
  • Vice President of Advancement, Advancement Services
  • 1st year College of Arts & Sciences Student, Student Web Ambassador
Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles were developed to bring clarity to our web-based initiatives and steer decisions for how Redlands.edu will be built to expand the University of Redlands connections and reach.

Provide Persuasive Decision-Making

Help prospective students make the decision to attend the University of Redlands. Identify the content choices that will speak most effectively to traditional students and adult learners. Provide relevant support for those students and the people who will influence them (parents, spouses, etc.). Demonstrate how the University is the right “fit” for each audience.

Facilitate Action Based on Audience Priority

Sort adult learners from traditional students and employ prominent call-to-actions that are easily identifiable and accessible. Visitors who wish to attend events at the University should be able to readily find information.

Share Redlands Culture. Timely and Timeless.

Support the creative and strategic development of University of Redlands brand visual personality and messaging. Ensure that Web communications support the timeless brand message of the University.

Specific Objectives
Mobile First

View development of the website primarily through the perspective of a mobile experience. Responsive design is critical to support multiple device (including touch-friendly) and desktop experiences.

Navigation

Build a simplified and intuitive navigation and site map structure. Our navigation should not represent our organizational structure but rather our core-purpose and our ability to connect with key audiences.

Accessibility

Consider users with disabilities and optimize accordingly.

Identify and Target Audiences

Identify and target adult learners from traditional students and internal from external audiences and guide each according to the information that is most meaningful and relevant to them.

Governance

Develop a governance structure and guidelines that will help us manage content and make decisions for the website.

Search Engine Optimization

Incorporate standard, accessible-friendly and contemporary SEO practices.

Analytics

Use analytics to drive our focus and guide us to what is important on each section of the website.

Social Media

Consider how social media must integrate within Redlands.edu and allow others to share content and propagate awareness of the University’s brand.

Content

Develop key editorial guidelines that will express the University of Redlands brand and story. Determine voice, style and format.

Search

Embed robust CMS search capabilities. Users must be able to easily find relevant and timely information.

Research and Discovery
Activities
  • Review documentation and assets provided
  • Conduct onsite strategy workshops with stakeholders
  • Conduct Independent Research
  • Conduct Audience Surveying
  • Review Brand & Identity Standards Manual
  • Review Sitemap
  • Review Site Analytics
  • Review 2014 State of the University Address
  • Review Admitted Students Questionnaire & Supporting Documentation
  • Research Competitive Institutions
  • Conduct Technical Discovery
  • Interview Stakeholders
Stakeholder Focus Groups
  • Web Advisory Committee
  • President’s Cabinet
  • Provost
  • University Communications
  • Advancement
  • College of Arts & Science Admission
  • Schools (Business, Education, Music, etc)
  • Johnston
  • Student Life
  • Athletics
  • Faculty
  • Student Body Government
  • International Students
  • Student-Athletes
  • Admission Hosts
  • etc.
Topics of Discussion
  • Understanding Redlands strategic vision and business objectives
  • Understanding Redlands distinctives in culture, academics, and outcomes from multiple perspectives
  • Review of a students enrollment journey (offline and online) to better serve student recruitment
  • Design discovery about visual priorities, preferences and needs
  • Discussion with all schools about their distinctive offerings and website needs
  • Interactive and visual survey to capture students personal experiences and opinions of their Redlands experience
Discovery Findings
Project Objectives
  • Create a new visual aesthetic for Redlands.edu that authentically portrays the community, campus, and stories that define Redlands
  • Streamline the site’s navigation and information architecture so that prospective students are quickly and easily connected with segmented information specific to their interests and aspirations
  • Develop new messaging for the Redlands value proposition that is anchored in authentic institutional values rather than rankings, media coverage, and other 3rd-party quality signals
  • Design and develop a modular user interface library and responsive templates that Redlands.edu—and with some modification, also other university systems—can deploy in a CMS
The Redlands Spirit
  • Redlands is a community of contributors, meant for people who take initiative
  • Redlands offers personalized education, where learning fits the interests and potential of students
  • Redlands is about holistic growth, driven by mentorship of individual students
  • Website requires an overhaul to embody the Redlands spirit
Information Architecture
  • A prospective student’s enrollment journey is poorly supported by the current content organization scheme
  • Conflicting navigation schemes make it difficult to create a consistent and quality pitch of Redlands to potential students
    1. Prospective students should be exposed to Redlands “umbrella” value proposition
    2. Prospective students should be moved to an admissions section that matches their specific interests with minimal clicks.
  • Limits of existing templates within RedDot has discouraged content editors and owners from updating content, creating a cycle of disengagement
  • Students and staff increasingly desire to rely
    on search
Design
  • Large, engaging, immersive and storytelling imagery
  • Subtle, quiet, engaging and storytelling background video
  • Large areas of solid, neutral or deep colors
  • Long pages that break up and vary the layout of content
  • Clear content flow and design hierarchy
User Testing
Types of Tests Performed
  • Navigation
  • Wireframe Tasks/Scenarios
  • Search
  • Find Your Program
  • Sticky Footer
  • Sitemap
  • News and Events
  • Scenario Questions
  • Mobile
  • Design Preferences
Participants
  • First Year College of Arts & Sciences Students
  • General College of Arts & Sciences Students
  • College of Arts & Sciences Transfer Students
  • ASUR Cabinet Members
  • Graduate Program Students
  • Faculty Members
  • Staff Members
  • Alumni
  • Non-Redlands Students

The image above represents the final approved homepage concept.