College optimizes website for recruitment

By Campus Editor

In tandem with a city-wide advertising campaign implemented to rebrand the college, a new college website launched Sept. 10.

Conceived as an effort to attract more students to the institution at a time when enrollment has steadily declined, the website’s launch is just in time for recruiting season—a time when high school and transfer students are making their final decisions about where to apply, according to Stan Wearden, senior vice president and provost.

The college worked with iFactory, a web design firm, to conduct research on how prospective students would respond to the new website. The result: potential students responded positively during testing periods, Wearden said.

“It’s a huge improvement over what we had before,” Wearden said. “I think it’s one of the best college websites I’ve seen anywhere.”

The website features a modern look and is optimized to be mobile-friendly so it will display fluidly on phones and tablets as well as the PC version. Initial planning began in Spring 2013, and since then more than 150 faculty, staff, administrators and alumni have collaborated to create the final product, he said. 

Wearden said it is important for the college to have an updated website because it more efficiently advertises the college’s mission and values, which allows the community, potential donors and prospective students to better understand and communicate with the college.

“I think it’s important for any college or university to have a strong website, but I think it’s particularly important for us because we’re a college that is known for the creativity of its students and faculty,” Wearden said. “We want a website that really reflects that creative environment.”

Anne-Marie St. Germaine, interim vice president of Communications & Marketing, said the new website will attract prospective students because it is compelling and appeals to their interests in contrast to the old website, which had the same format since 2007.

“Our website is really our primary marketing tool in terms of prospective students and getting our messages out about the college and the experience that students will have,” St. Germaine said. “We were able to put the final touches on it, and now it’s live, and it’s very exciting.”

St. Germaine said this is the first stage in redesigning the website and that there are still sections of it that are from the old website.

Mary Forde, assistant vice president of Creative Services, said her office was responsible for the design of the website and said it set out with the goal to make it more interesting, engaging and memorable. Forde said she was inspired by the websites of the college’s competitors that she hand picked and chose what worked best for the college’s vision.

“Our goal was to do something that had never been done before,” Forde said. “We wanted it to be very impactful, very artful and engaging for that particular prospective student audience.”

She said there are approximately two more years of work to be done on the website, but the college is proud of the website’s progress so far. She also said there will be several methods of soliciting feedback, which includes email handles and communication between department chairs and school deans.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Forde said. “I think the college should be  proud that it has a fabulous new website and that most of the work was done by an internal team. It’s extraordinary.”