As a cutting edge leader in technology education, Neumont University knew how important their website was to influence students and their parents' decision to enroll. Neumont University approached Vérité to redesign their website with the goals of concise content, easier navigation and lead generation.
To understand the direction for a website redesign, Vérités process begins with Discovery and Strategy, to grasp how site visitors currently behave on a website and identify current trends in the related industry. Once a firm understanding of the current site is known, a solid strategy for the new site can be recommended based on the facts collected.
The Discovery phase consists of three main areas: First a full analysis of the website metrics and how visitors behave. Next, comprehensive research into how other organizations within the industry structure their websites and speak to their audience. Lastly, understand how a company’s marketing tactics may affect metrics. All findings are then compiled into a Discovery document that can be referenced throughout the project.
Website Metrics Analysis
Complete analysis of the website metrics, using Neumont’s existing Google Analytics account, helped to determine how visitors navigated through the site and indicated popular pages. The data resulted in clear click-thru paths that site users followed. We found that most visitors were first interested in finding out more about a specific program, how much it costs to attend the university, and other information about Neumont, before filling out the enrollment application. Another piece of the analysis is finding out how users “talk”. This is done by looking at the non-branded keywords that result when users enter the site organically through browser searches. Vérité was able to identify key terms used that yielded low bounce rates, which showed that the site visitor was happy with the page they landed on and continued viewing the site. This helped to know how the site should be speaking to the audience both from a navigation perspective and in the voice of the content.
Vérité also conducted industry research into how current young adult on campus educational websites are set up today to factor how the new website should be designed. Many features were identified as common across various websites such as logo placement, imagery lending to credibility of the institution, and easy-to-use header navigation.
Overall, the educational sites spoke directly to the student about their future academic and life experience at the school. The sites that were easiest to use were those that narrowed down their navigation choices and made a clear path for the site visitor of what they “should do” next. Each page had a very clear call to action.
Neumont Marketing Impact
Having a clear understanding of Neumont University’s marketing direction and trends helped us to know how they communicate to current and prospective students. Using the marketing collateral from Neumont that had received the best response, Vérité was able to lend that to the design and voice of the new site. The website metric research showed various spikes in traffic to their site over the course of a year. By knowing what the Neumont marketing trends were, Vérité was able to tie those to the site metrics and rule out the spikes when determining the natural flow of a website visitor. At the same time, Neumont was able to see the benefits of their marketing campaigns and how site traffic was affected positively.
Prior to developing the Strategy, Vérité met with Neumont University to review the findings from the Discovery document. This conversation helped to establish the new site outline, much of which was based on findings from visitor behaviors along with identifying areas of the site that needed to be prominent due to key corporate messaging.
The purpose of the Strategy document is to advocate how the overall site should be architected in order to talk to the defined audience and cater to their behaviors, while also adhering to the overall goals of easy site navigation and lead generation. This document also allows other team members involved in the project, who were not part of the Discovery phase, the chance to fully understand the goals and objectives of the site redesign.
Reiterate the Goals of the Site
The Strategy document will declare the goals of the project. This section includes use cases that are gathered during the Discovery document review meeting to help further explain the objectives.
Clearly State the Audience
The Strategy document characterized the audience the website is designed for by assembling Neumont University’s marketing profiles along with the site behaviors learned during the Discovery phase. The description was detailed so that all involved in the project could write, design and program with confidence knowing who would be using the website.
Define SEO Goals
The SEO section of the Strategy document defines how the site talks to the audience by listing keywords that should be used based on the non-branded keywords identified during the metric research. Vérité suggested authority pages for Neumont University for key terms that were identified during the Discovery phase as pages with a high volume of page views and those that were entry pages from browser searches.
Outline High-Level Site Navigation
Analyzing the current behavior of Neumont University’s website helped us to grasp what information was most important to the site visitors. It was a key factor in determining how the site was architected in the redesign. The metrics proved to be a rock that everyone on the team could refer to when deciding if an element of the site should stay or be taken out.
Once the Discovery and Strategy phases were complete, we were able to move forward with the next steps in the website redesign. It has been our experience that Discovery and Strategy are integral in any large-scale website project. Having these documents easily accessible allowed team members on both the Vérité and Neumont University side to maintain consistency in both messaging and design. This ensured that site content was on course to speak to the audience, and kept Neumont University’s goals of concise content, easy navigation and web leads at the fore front of the website redesign.