How Florida Gulf Coast University Boosted Digital Engagement with a New Website and CMS
Florida Gulf Coast University increased new visits to the school’s website with improved search engine optimization.
The university future-proofed their website, as a result of OU Campus’ extensibility and flexibility.
With OU Campus, they have built-in safety checks for accessibility to maintain compliance.
Having a strong digital presence is essential for Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers to compete against much larger in-state schools. That’s why Jeffery Garner, Director of Digital Communications, began shopping around for a content management system (CMS) to support FGCU’s redesigned website, ultimately choosing OU Campus. The school’s old system was a legacy CMS that didn’t support mobile responsiveness, lacked flexibility to support third-party integrations and open APIs, and lacked the extensibility of an enterprise-level CMS to accommodate ever-changing technologies. Furthermore, there were no built-in quality checks to maintain site structure and consistency for design and accessibility.
The following case study outlines how OU Campus helped Florida Gulf Coast University:
- Increase new visits to the school’s website with improved SEO.
- Develop and run data reports with site activity details so that Jeffrey and his team can create content to attract prospective students and engage supporters of the university.
- Future-proof their website, as a result of OU Campus’ extensibility and flexibility.
- Empower content contributors, while maintaining site structure and consistency through customized user permissions.
- Build in safety checks for accessibility and design to maintain compliance and brand
Located in Southwest Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) offers an exceptional environment for learning. Its campus and region serve as a living laboratory where life-enhancing discoveries are made. FGCU is an incubator for entrepreneurs who fuel economic development and a cultural resource that enriches life on and around campus.
1. OU Campus makes it easy to structure websites and build in performance enhancements.
Florida Gulf Coast University was founded in 1991, but in its short 27-year history, Florida’s tenth university has grown yearly enrollment to 28,000 students. It’s an impressive feat and one that continues to benefit from the school’s aggressive push for a dynamic digital presence.
To compete, Jeffrey needed a CMS to help him scale search engine optimization (SEO) best practices consistently throughout the web pages on the school’s new website. “SEO is a combination of technology sciences, art, and guerilla marketing used to drive visitors to the website,” he said. “Because we are a small school, we have to be absolutely on point with our SEO.”
Jeffrey started at the beginning of the CMS implementation process by ensuring that the new website templates built within OU Campus featured the structure preferred and recognized by search engines.
Simultaneously, he worked with the OmniUpdate Professional Services team to design a well-structured navigational architecture and then reworked the site’s data structure, making sure images, file names, and metadata all worked to maximize SEO opportunities. He deleted outdated and redundant pages, replaced weak copy with strong calls to action, and provided clear pathways for prospective students clicking through the website for information.
Our templates force editors to complete the required SEO fields so that we maintain SEO best practices. This helps search engines find the correct page every time.Jeffery Garner, Florida Gulf Coast University
With the new design templates and SEO framework in place, Jeffrey began educating his content contributors. With 196 editors, it was imperative to have a simple, easy-to-use CMS. OU Campus allows administrators to limit exactly what can be changed in templates, so Jeffrey could control page features to maintain sitewide SEO consistency. He also trained content contributors on SEO best practices that they could use when creating and editing their own pages. “Our templates force editors to complete the required SEO fields so that we maintain SEO best practices,” Jeffrey said. “This helps search engines find the correct page every time.” Overhauling the website’s structure and implementing SEO has proven beneficial: FGCU has seen increases in both student site visits and donor engagement.
Result: By using OU Campus’ sitewide templates, FGCU has seen increases in both student site visits and donor engagement.
2. OU Campus features customizable reporting capabilities.
FGCU had no data on their old site’s performance. During the redesign process, Jeffrey implemented Google Analytics, allowing him to run reports seamlessly within OU Campus that provide an overview of specific pages and sections of the website to stay abreast of website traffic and conversions.
To keep content contributors informed of their pages’ performance, the school uses Screaming Frog for onsite SEO analyses, then generates a report to distribute the data to contributors. “Reports such as these are essential in reviewing various aspects of the website to ensure that we maximize SEO opportunities for FGCU,” Jeffrey said. Armed with this kind of data, Jeffrey and his content team can create content specifically for target audiences such as prospective students and university supporters.
Jeffrey and his team spent hours designing a logical navigation structure and naming files following a strict SEO protocol. “OU Campus provides a great framework for working,” Jeffrey said. “Even as I was inside OU Campus revising designs, other content contributors could be in the system at the same time doing their own updates.”
Additionally, OU Campus allows Jeffrey to monitor his workforce by creating reports that show how old pages are, and when pages were last updated. He can also see if someone that has been trained is not using the system. “If someone has been trained on OU Campus, but is not using the system, I can review their content to see whether it is dated or reach out to see if they are having issues with posting new content,” Jeffrey said.
Result: OU Campus makes it seamless for Jeffrey to run customizable reports and monitor his website’s performance.
3. OU Campus is extensible, flexible, and has built-in ADA compliance checks.
As a higher ed professional, Jeffrey knew that the needs he had today for his website could change tomorrow. This knowledge made it imperative for FGCU to implement an extensible CMS. Because OU Campus is flexible, meaning that it has a comprehensive set of open APIs and gadgets that allow administrators to automate or extend functionality, FGCU doesn’t have to worry about its CMS becoming outdated—it can simply accommodate new technologies and needs as they arise—now or in the future. It also features built-in accessibility checks to keep the site in compliance.
OU Campus is an enterprise-level system, and we needed a product that was exceptionally flexible not only for today’s needs, but also in going forward.Jeffery Garner, Florida Gulf Coast University
“We knew that getting rid of our OpenText legacy environment would require us to overcome limitations from an older system,” Jeffrey said. “But we wanted the highest quality website possible. OU Campus is an enterprise-level system, and we needed a product that was exceptionally flexible not only for today’s needs, but also in going forward.”
Result: FGCU has a future-proof website that allows them to easily adapt to new technologies or future needs.
Contact an OmniUpdate expert to see how OU Campus can help your school boost digital engagement and reach more prospective students.
4. OU Campus is easy to use, with customizable user permissions to maintain consistency in site structure.
FGCU’s old site used OpenText for document management, which complicated editorial processes for their website. The school chose OU Campus because they needed an editing tool that a novice user could understand, quickly learn, and then be self-sufficient in creating and editing pages. “We just don’t have the luxury of teaching someone and having them come back two or three times,” Jeffrey said. “We needed an easy tool they could use immediately.”
Being able to assign user permissions allows Jeffrey to maintain control over the website’s design, while at the same time, empowers content contributors to create, revise, and delete content as needed—without the worry of altering something they shouldn’t have. “By giving our editors more structured and defined templates to complete, we empower them to take pride in their sites, which helps us tell the right FGCU story,” Jeffrey said.
Result: FGCU has an empowered team of content contributors that can create, revise, and delete content as needed—without the worry of altering something they shouldn’t have.
5. OU Campus features built-in safety checks for accessibility and design.
OU Campus has built-in safety checks for accessibility and design. Before publication of pages, content is automatically scanned to check for spelling, link, W3C validation, and accessibility issues. These safety checks eliminate the chance of someone publishing content that could affect accessibility and brand appearance.
An added benefit of OU Campus templates is customization. Each FGCU template was designed to capitalize on SEO, but FGCU is not locked into using the same templates over and over. “OU Campus has a foundation that allows us to be very flexible in our design,” Jeffrey said. “We can build our own Snippets to support the content displays that we need without having to build a completely new template.”
Result: FGCU maintains site-wide accessibility and brand consistency.
FGCU’s quest for perfect SEO is ongoing, but the SEO results and other benefits the school has enjoyed since implementing their redesigned website and OU Campus continue to grow. “With OU Campus, the FGCU website is backed by a fresh, new, clean enterprise system,” Jeffrey said. “We now have a strong foundation in place that puts the school’s digital presence on the same playing field as larger schools.”
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