Image by Dan Vaillancourt
As of Aug. 18, www.holycross.edu has a brand new look — the first phase of a yearlong initiative to redesign the College’s most widely accessed communications medium.
With tens of millions of page views annually, the website is used daily by members of the campus community, and is the first stop for anyone — high school students researching colleges, alumni, potential employees, reporters, visitors to campus, and just about everyone — who is seeking information about Holy Cross.
“The last site-wide redesign took place back in 2006, which was another era in web design and development,” said Ellen Ryder, the College’s chief marketing and communications officer. “Now is definitely the time to make some big changes.”
That first big change involved redesigning the home page and updating top-level “landing pages” in sections such as Admissions, Academics, and Student Life. Headers and footers on each page across the site have also been updated, but the overall site navigation has stayed the same, for the moment.
“We need an extensive blueprint to redesign and build a new site, and we want to make sure the entire campus community has an opportunity to be involved in those decisions,” said Ryder. “So we are taking a two-step process. A campus advisory team has already been convened, and we will be holding open sessions on campus to hear from students, faculty, and staff about what they want to see in terms of storytelling, news, photography, design, and site architecture — and then make informed decisions about how to create the most effective site for all audiences.”
With this phased approach, the College will also be able to track traffic to and from the redesigned home page, and have data to assess how the “interim” design is performing. That, coupled with feedback from campus and external audiences, will be used to inform the final design, scheduled to launch in the spring of 2015.
In the meantime, the new home page incorporates bold new campus photography and graphics, and gives more prominence to distinctive facts about Holy Cross as well as more stories about Holy Cross faculty, students, and programs. The home page is responsive for reading on all size screens — whether desktop, tablet, or smartphone — and was developed in conjunction with new student recruitment print publications, to ensure a consistent tone and style. The publications will be ready later this month to distribute to high school students across the country as they begin their college search.
Months before the design began on the website and new recruitment material, the College conducted extensive research to inform the design direction and content of the new material. Groups of alumni, faculty, staff, parents, high school students, and guidance counselors participated in a mix of focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and an online survey.
“We know that our entire community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents alike — are exceptionally proud of Holy Cross. The College lives and breathes in the hearts of people who have experienced it,” said Ryder. “We want the website, and indeed all our communications, to tell our story with clarity and strength — and to be heard and appreciated by even more people across the country and around the world.”
To read more about the Holy Cross story and our storytelling, please visit http://www.holycross.edu/askmore/.
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