Montgomery County Community College's Website Goes from Stagnant to Stellar with Help from a New CMS
The site’s overall user experience went from hard-to-navigate, text-heavy web pages to a responsive, modern website with an agile search tool and sleek design.
The website now complies with accessibility guidelines.
With decentralized content editors, content can be posted immediately instead of waiting for approval and publishing.
When Web Administrator Angela Cavaliere took over responsibilities for Montgomery County Community College’s website, she inherited a stagnant site in need of a major update. “The site was maintained to the point where it was kept afloat,” Angela said. “However, it was flat, stale, text-heavy, unresponsive, and had no pictures of our campus, which is actually gorgeous. It was missing life.”
Montgomery County Community College, or MC3 as the school is known, offers 100+ associate degree/certificate programs in 44 areas of study, including nearly a dozen online degree and certificate programs and several hybrid online/ traditional programs at several learning centers throughout the county.
Working with a few key constituents around the college, Angela issued a request for proposal (RFP) based on the specific needs of their community college. Using a complex grading system to evaluate companies for both a content management system (CMS) and redesign, Angela and her team ultimately chose OU Campus for the CMS.
“OU Campus fit the bill for what we were looking for,” Angela said. “There are so many things we needed in a CMS—a WYSIWYG editor, the ability to copy and paste from Word and distribute access to web pages are just a few. The way things are built and the capabilities of OU Campus were the most important part of the redesign for us. I would definitely recommend to start with the CMS.”
The way things are built and the capabilities of OU Campus were the most important part of the redesign for us. I would definitely recommend to start with the CMS.Angela Cavaliere, Web Administrator, Montgomery County Community College
OmniUpdate’s higher ed focus was another deciding factor for the team. “A ton of community colleges use OU Campus, and the fact that OmniUpdate is focused exclusively on higher ed sold us. We have worked with big firms in the past and didn’t feel that they understood how a community college really works. Plus, I called the references they listed in their proposal along with about 15 other schools using OU Campus, and we heard the same thing over and over: OU Campus has the best customer support in the industry. It really pushed them to the top.”
Additionally, the college needed the site to be accessible. “We weren’t even close to being accessible with our old site,” Angela said. “We had to throw everything out and start over to make sure that accessibility was built into the site from the start.”
Working closely with the college’s marketing team, Angela and members of the IT department started the redesign from scratch, gathering new images and content from departments across campus and working with the design firm in creating a logical, well-thought-out plan for information architecture. When hard decisions had to be made about technology or content, she sought buy-in from the executive team before presenting plans to the entire advisory team.
Simultaneously, the college tackled a new brand campaign. “It was too much,” Angela said. “There were some issues that we hadn’t thought about in regard to the website that we had to address. For example, we ended up changing the colors after the design was created because of brand updates.”
Throughout the project, Angela conducted usability testing with 300 students so that she could make tweaks as needed. “This was such an important step in the process, and one that is pretty much free,” Angela said. “The students helped us see what worked and what didn’t before we finalized the site.”
When it came time to migrate content to the new site, Angela and her team copied and pasted new information from Word documents. “If I could go back and do it over again, I would have pushed to use OU Campus from the beginning—which is what a CMS is for,” she said. “Instead, we used a two-step process that we could have avoided.” Even so, Angela says that the overall migration was cleaner with OU Campus and having the WYSIWYG editor made it possible to see what a page would look like before going live, which was a huge timesaver for her team.
Two months before going live with the new site, the college rolled out a soft launch to faculty and staff, a move that helped them identify potential issues. “Because the search feature is not available until the site launches, it forced users of the site to use the navigation,” she said. Most of the issues, like broken links, were easy fixes.
In all, the project took a year and a half. The new site is accessible and scalable. OU Campus users have different access levels and toolbars, as well as 16 templates available for creating various new pages. “Updating a website should never be one person’s job,” Angela said. “Now, CMS users have the ability to manage the site, as well as type their changes right into OU Campus, eliminating an extra step and the added time of waiting for someone to make changes.”
Updating a website should never be one person’s job. Now, CMS users have the ability to manage the site, as well as type their changes right into OU Campus, eliminating an extra step and the added time of waiting for someone to make changes.Angela Cavaliere, Web Administrator, Montgomery County Community College
The new website is everything the Montgomery County Community College’s advisory team had hoped for. It’s clean and modern, mobile-friendly, and quick and easy for site visitors to find the information they need.
“The reactions have been extremely positive,” Angela said. “The experience using OU Campus is amazing, a complete 180 from our old Joomla CMS. OU Campus is so much friendlier and we feel confident letting people into the CMS because we know they can’t break it.” When something does go wrong, Angela has found OmniUpdate’s support to be responsive and quick in helping her troubleshoot problems.
Above all, “OU Campus made my job easier—so easy that by implementing the CMS, half of my job responsibilities went away,” Angela said. “I no longer have to perform mundane content updates and can now focus on what I really want to do.
“As one of the most innovative community colleges in the country, we now have a website that we can be proud of. We are just a small college outside Philly, but our website is just as nice as the big players, thanks to OU Campus.”
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