Build it Better, Attract the Best and Brightest

The story echoes across the country. Colleges and universities are struggling to recruit highly qualified students. The message from parents to their children is a resounding, “you’ve got to be able to find a job after college.” This pressure leads students to seek vocationalized degree options like engineering or education, leaving arts programs to “step up their game” if they want to attract the best and brightest into their programs.

We learned through our extensive discovery work that landing a career after an arts education isn’t a fictional storyline. It’s a story that just needs better telling. We were proud to be the chosen partner to work with the College of Arts and Architecture to plan, design, and develop a robust web presence to do just that. Tell the story that matters. Tell the story better.

Project Goals

1

Unified College-Level Website

To develop a unified brand, Arts & Architecture needed a centralized site. This was also a crucial tool in tracking engagement and developing the digital data needed to ensure the site’s effectiveness.

2

Everything Arts

Arts & Architecture is the backbone of the arts community at PSU. This website had to unite News, Events, Exhibits, Galleries, Facilities, Projects into one powerful showcase to demonstrate the community’s depth and breadth.

3

Focusing on the Right Audiences

The new website needed to address the College’s most important external audiences and invite them to explore the site. It could no longer have an internal focus.

4

Organizing Content Strategically

The site architecture and content plan for this enormous site needed to be strategic and purposeful, every step of the way, to ensure each component supported recruitment goals.

5

Supporting Data and Conversions

Establishing key metrics was an important part of this website. The College knew they needed real data to inform the student enrollment funnel, user behavior, and site performance.

6

Sustainability

Even the best websites go stale if they’re not regularly maintained with new content. This website had to be easy to maintain by non-technical staff, while still being able to deliver a consistent look and feel.

73%


73% of students think the job placement rate from an institution is a very important influencing factor in the college decision process.

Strategy

Plan, plan, plan. Going from dozens of websites to just one meant a lot of time spent planning content, website architecture, and conversions. And that’s not even counting the time spent planning how to create the technical engine that would make the site easy to edit, hard to break, and ready to be sustained for years to come. A crucial part of the strategic effort, here, included developing a site architecture that was even more detailed than usual, capturing not only the organization of pages, but how each page related to the recruitment pipeline and the specific content plan for each.

Design

For an arts college like Arts & Architecture, the design had to wow. We spent time perfecting the look and feel. We challenged one another, made compromises, pushed the limits, and ended up with a finished product that aligns all of the key messages with maximum visual impact. We worked within guidelines from the central communications office, but we were able to break visual norms to truly define what an arts college at Penn State should be.

Development

This site was developed using a custom striped-based, page-builder theme that runs on WordPress. This allows the client a great deal of flexibility and stability as well as ease of maintenance. The page-builder system sets the stage for the creation of new pages, and content can be created once and used throughout the site. This ensures a consistent on-brand application every time. More importantly, it ensures that the site can be managed by marketing and communications teams, without the need for constant IT support. Gone are the days of creating IT tickets for content tweaks on your website.

Analytics & Data

As a central recruitment engine for Arts & Architecture, the website needed to be able to offer centralized insights about visitors to the site. Our team created a site with this analytics backbone in mind from day one. The College is now poised to learn about the visitors to the site, how they are using the site, what key behaviors they are taking, and how that influences recruitment. Additionally, with an eye on search rank, we established a baseline SEO approach that will set the site up nicely for expanded paid strategies.

Awards and recognitions
CP Squared logo

2020 CP2 Bracket Award

Category: Online / Digital Websites or Apps

The task of consolidating seventeen school sites into one website for the College required an extreme amount of planning and open dialogue between our agency and the client. The end result was a conversion-centered site that didn’t compromise on design. The site was reviewed and honored with a Bracket award. These awards are a measure of excellence as determined by a panel of industry leaders.

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