With more than 38,000 students and over 300 academic degree programs, Philadelphia-based Temple University is one of the nation’s most robust and diverse universities.
Laying a New Digital Foundation: Web Infrastructure
Our long-standing relationship with Temple began when they made the decision to adopt Drupal as their university-wide content management platform. They were in need of a team with the technical chops to support them through the planning, redevelopment, and migration of more than 100 websites scattered throughout the university.
The pilot projects for the Drupal migration were the flagship sites: temple.edu and admissions.temple.edu, both of which were built by our team in close coordination with Temple’s in-house design resources. After successful, on-time launches for both of those projects, we continued to support Temple through the consolidation process, ultimately helping to support, build, or coordinate the launch of more than 80 websites. We continue to collaborate with their in-house marketing and technology resources, along with their external vendors and partners, to keep their web infrastructure running smoothly.
Taking the Next Step With Next Stop: The Digital Viewbook Experience
Having established a relationship with university stakeholders as a trusted Drupal partner, and armed with a thorough understanding of their evolving brand initiatives, we next teamed with Temple’s Admissions Department to convert their college viewbook — the comprehensive marketing “bible” for prospective and incoming students and their parents — from a traditional print brochure to a high-energy, all-digital interactive format that was teeming with “wow factor.” Despite the web being new territory for viewbooks, Temple was confident in our abilities as a full-service agency to bring together the necessary technology, design, and strategy elements to make the project work.
Working closely with an innovative group of strategists, creatives, and technologists on Temple’s Strategic Communications team, we created Next Stop, a cutting-edge, immersive online experience for prospective young students. This new information-rich engagement tool offers prospective students details on academics, tuition and financial aid, athletics, campus and city living, and study abroad opportunities, as well as access to an online application form — all of which is supplemented with intricate animated imagery, infographics, embedded video, student case studies, and more. It also serves as a valuable recruiting device when presented by university staff via smartphones, tablets, or laptops at college fairs, orientation days, and other university-related events.
To ensure the viewbook could be experienced appropriately on any device, including older smartphones and low-capability devices, we added a variety of clever solutions and performance enhancements that assisted with image-loading requirements and bandwidth demands. After its inaugural year, we implemented a layout redesign based on feedback from user testing and usage patterns — providing meaningful new pathways to relevant, sought-after information based on the analytics and behavior.
Building a Scalable Website Framework: Data Intelligence Meets Atomic Design
After consolidating Temple’s website platform from a technology perspective, the university found itself facing a new challenge: the need for a large-scale initiative to standardize its visual and content approach across its various departments and schools. Due, in part, to our established history in working with Temple and our broad experience in related projects, university stakeholders engaged us to begin this aggressive task.
We began by creating a website framework that could be applied to meet their diverse objectives, with the first iteration being a site focused exclusively on attracting and engaging prospective incoming students at the university’s Klein College of Media and Communication. The site’s content strategy was informed by data intelligence gathered through extensive behavioral and search pattern analyses in three key areas:
Sitemap User Testing — We confirmed our assumptions about navigation labels by tracking test subjects as they moved through a sample sitemap one level at a time. This gave us insight into decision points based on questions such as, "Will someone know X refers to Y?" or "Will someone know to find X under Y?" The results revealed that traditional nomenclature was not as effective as it was assumed to be, and tweaking it allowed us to align labels with real-world terminology usage as opposed to the traditional “functional structure” that was previously in place.
Search Behavior Analysis — Employing a combination of web crawlers and other proprietary technology, we identified which search terms and content categories are most commonly used by prospective students throughout various stages of the college-selection process. This answered questions like, "What content moves a prospective student closer to making the decision to apply?"
Competitor Analysis — An audit of peer universities illustrated the various types of content they present for prospective students, how they organize it, and, most important, how we could improve upon areas in which they were falling short.
Working closely with a select group of Temple’s communication specialists and department team members, we conducted a deep inventory, quality analysis, and consolidation of existing content in three categories: information that is relevant for prospective students; information that should be moved to an existing Temple intranet for currently enrolled students; and information that should be omitted from the new site altogether.
Where necessary, we worked with faculty to rewrite and refine existing content for the new site, while prioritizing keyword optimization based on proven SEO principles. A key new feature called Find Your Major was created allowing prospective students to identify their passion for a particular job or field of interest without requiring them to know the specific names of majors commonly associated with it. In the end, we ran the new collection of site content through a natural language processor to ensure that search engines were recognizing and understanding the terminology it in the way it was intended.
The completed website, designed with a focus on flexibility throughout, presents content in a digitally engaging way while being viewed on any device. And because our approach is based on objective ongoing research, it is intended to be modified over time in response to insight we gain from user testing.
Going forward, Temple is generating plans to roll out this framework on a larger scale, and departments that adopt this scalable solution will realize significant cost savings because of this flexible and functional proven solution that is now in place.