At OUTC16, Sylvia Nicosia, Director of Web Programming and Development at Farmingdale State College, talked about five guidelines to follow when rolling out a new website. Read on to learn her secrets to success for a better website and redesign experience.
Take Your Time
When planning and developing your new website layout, Nicosia stressed that it is important not to rush in order to meet a deadline. It is better to extend the deadline to create something worthy instead of presenting something halfway rushed. If Nicosia's team felt they were going to miss a deadline, they moved it back to ensure they were comfortable with their work before moving on to the next stage.
Surround Yourself with an Awesome Team
In higher education, it is essential to have support from the top in order to make the process easier down the road. Not only did Nicosia have support from her team, but she had support from the college's president and vice president. Additionally, it is important for every member involved in the redesign to understand that the project is a team effort. "It's not your baby, it's our baby," Nicosia said. And ultimately, the group decision should always benefit the intended audience (your site visitors!).
Employ the Right Tools
With the right tools, you can find the necessary information needed to determine your website's layout. Nicosia used both quantitative and qualitative data to measure how site visitors were accessing content and how they expected to find that content. Quantitative data, such as Google Analytics, will tell you what your audience is looking for. Inquiries from your contact forms will tell you where students and prospective students expect to find information. Once you've combined your results, you can develop a framework to build the new layout.
Empower Smart Content Contributors
Workshops are not only a great way to provide content contributors with the necessary training and tools, but they integrate your contributors into the web project team. For eighteen months, Nicosia required content contributors to attend monthly mandatory workshops. For those who did not attend, their publishing privileges were revoked and they were required to submit content for approval. The workshops had a 90% attendance rate and content contributors were excited to learn how easy version 10 of OU Campus was to use. Remember, content contributors are not designers - they don't need access to every tool in OU Campus. Only give them what they need!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication with all levels at all times is important to have a successful website launch. Using emails, newsletters, and workshops, Nicosia was able to provide both internal and external constituents with regular updates about the launch. She recommends inviting your campus community to an open workshop where they are encouraged to bring their laptops and mobile devices to test the website and provide feedback.
As a learning experience from their previous redesign, Nicosia recommends only disclosing the month the website will launch instead of a specific date. By doing so, you will likely avoid a site crash and potential backlash because the website didn't go live on time.
Did you miss our recap of Farmingdale State College's website redesign journey? Check it out!