Running a college has a lot in common with running a health system: You have lots of people coming through your door – both physically and digitally – and you have important and sometimes complicated information to share with your audience.
For Erica VandenHouten and Dr. Robin Harris – the team of two on the University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing website redesign – their digital welcome mat had aged a little over the years while also becoming a bit of a filing cabinet. They knew it was time for some serious spring cleaning.
Geonetric’s implementation team was happy to help, redesigning and relaunching the MU Sinclair School of Nursing website on WordPress.
Involving stakeholders early
Content is always the biggest beast to tackle. Armed with recommendations from a Geonetric content strategist, Harris and VandenHouten dove head first into auditing the content with help from their department stakeholders.
Harris said that years of content on the website made it important to involve stakeholders who “understood the purpose of our redesign.”
“Geonetric helped us create a vision of what we wanted our website to be,” Harris said. Geonetric’s recommendations became “our guide to keep us focused on the messaging we wanted our new website to display.”
By involving stakeholders early, the team had faster turn-around for approvals, especially over a typically quiet summer break. Their involvement also managed expectations. The strategies laid out by the Mizzou web project team and Geonetric were quickly passed on to stakeholders, who kept those goals in mind as they made decisions about their content.
“The Geonetric team created a content matrix which was an amazing way to manage multiple website edits done by a variety of stakeholders,” Harris commented. “Each week this matrix was updated by the Geonetric team, helping us to see how much we had accomplished and how much we had left to do.”
Integrating WordPress tools and widgets
The Mizzou team had a wish list that included an easy-to-use online calendar, a fresh approach to promoting news, and a way to control search engine priorities, just to name a few.
While WordPress isn’t the best option for thousand-page websites, it was a good fit for the fairly trim MU Sinclair School of Nursing. With WordPress’ easy-to-integrate widgets and plugins, Geonetric was able to deliver on the client’s wish list.
Alongside a strategy for presenting news features, plugins like Yoast SEO and an EventON calendar widget were added, bringing three high-priority features to life.
Delivering a fresh, responsive navigation + design
Fueled by the passion to make their site as intuitive as possible on devices of all sizes, the School of Nursing relied on best practices and recommendations from Geonetric to rebuild their navigation from the ground up.
The previous audience-based navigation was eliminated in favor of more user-friendly terms in the main navigation. Decluttering and reorganizing also made content easier to find and digest. The main navigation focuses on the school’s goals and primary audience – students – while the secondary navigation speaks to the donor and alumni audience.
The design, too, supports their organizational goals. As a top performing nursing school in the eyes of U.S. News & World Report, the Mizzou team wanted to prominently call out those “pride points.” We integrated a flip-card widget to highlight specific school accomplishments on the home page. Their mascot Truman the Tiger makes an appearance, too. Visitors quickly see what makes this school stand out from the rest.
“Promoting the history, reputation, and accomplishments of our school is important as it allows potential students, current students, faculty, and alumni to see what sets our program apart from all the rest,” Harris said. “The flip-card pride points are fun, interactive, and let us visually promote all the excellent accomplishments of our program.”
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