27: Prepping for a Web Redesign at Gettysburg College w/ Paul Fairbanks

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Paul Fairbanks, Director of Creative Services at Gettysburg College discusses the front work necessary to prepare for, get buy-in, and launch a successful web redesign process at your institution.

Find a breakdown of this episode here.

You're listening to enrollment growth,university from helicks education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Rolment at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh andromant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network Imari,Golson AVP of marketing at healits education and we're here today withPaul farbanks director of creative services at Gettysburg College. Paul.Welcome to the show, thanks for having men. I'm really excited about thisconversation because we're going to be talking about Web redesigns today, butnot even getting to the actual design challenges where it becomes a terriblypolitical, creative exercise but the before, and how to prep for and getbying for a successful web design process at your institution. But beforewe dig too deep into that Paul, can you ge the listeners a little bit betterunderstanding of both Keddies Burg...

College and your role there right soget is Frere college is a small presidential liveralarts college inSouth Central Pennsylvania. Obviously, Gettysburg has a lot of historyassociad with it, and we try to take advantage of that. The actual buildingI'm standing in right now with the civilwar hospital during the battle, sowe're tied to our history in many different ways. We Roll about twentysix hundred under graduates and my role here is I'm in the Office ofCommunications and marketing and sort of as most higher at professionals dowhere a lot of hats, I oversee the multimedia team, do some stuff otsocial media and content strategy and, most importantly, take care of thewebsite on the front endside of things awesome to kick out this conversationball. What was the primary motivation for deciding? It was time for anoverhaul of your website. What were their content concerns? Organizationalconcerns. Design concerns a little bit of everything, but mostly designconcerns. We hadn't done real redesign in over ten years and looking aroundand trying to keep up with everybody...

...else we felt like it was time we wantedto sort of sort of tear everything down and build it back up from stratch. Youknow how, as time passes, you may add things on here and there and changetemplates here there and all of a sudden yo end up with a lot of disparepieces that don't really have a lot of confusion. So we sort of wanted tostart fresh awesome awesome. Let's talk ownership, who owns your website todayat your institution and who ended up on this web redesign committee. You Formfor this project and why? Right so, the issue of ownership is sort of one ofgovernment. Attendin Consay, you know like no one and everyone yeah owns it.So we we have the CMS CONTEF managming system that allows al every departmentand and active, had advinitraof office to have control over their piece of thewebsite. So we have a distributed model. All things considered, we will probablybe moving to a more centralized model. Moving forward, Wev found that you knowthat helps us control or messaging a little bit better. But so our officehas the most control over the website,...

...but in a sense everybody has a hand init and some sort of ownership. The web redesign committee is sort of a cross section of campus newsfaculty, There's people from my development office, people fromedmissions office, people from our sort of financial services and studentsupport, and we even have a student on the on the committee with out thatvoice was important, Erit Department, obviously, because they're going to becritical and helping us actually launch the site, so yeah, definitely a crosssection and and making sure that everybody across campusis knows what'sgoing on and is bought into the process awesome. So let's talk about thisinitial scoping exercise. You held that you found so helpful in getting allthese various stakeholders on board with the process from the verybeginning right. So we actually got the green light to mo forward to this lastspring and we traned to serve WRAPP ourheads around how it's all going towork. Do we just put out a request for proposals broadly and see what comes inor or what do we want to do? And we...

...actually have a group of alums andfriends of the college that meet once in a while to give us some advice, andone of their pieces of advice was to do scoping exercise to do some initialresearch before the RFP to make sure that everybody's on the same page andknows what we're getting into ith the redesign process. So that's what wedecided to do. We hired an agency to do some research for us and then also do aoncampus workshop with theway redesign committee and what that did was alloweveryone to understand why we're going through this exercise and h w what thegoals are and also the workshop, was incredibly valuable because it gave ascope for what was involved. So I live in the web world and understand whatwas going to happen. But this we redesign committee. They may look atthe website every now and then or may update their content on n occasionalbasis, but theyre don't live and breathe it kind of in the same way. So this workship was really valuable N.helping them understand that first we're going to do this and then we'regoing to look at some concepts, and then we might see how the contentsgoing to fit into that and, in the end,...

...we're going to have this design systemthat that allows us to have this great new Website Sa. It was really valuableand also exposing some different painpoints that may come along and someunderstandings of o. what's out there, it was very much a chance to educatethe webredesign committee on where we are and where we need to go,and so W at was partially the goal of that initial scoping exercise to notlet it turn into this kind of spiral. Debate on what this I should look likeand en what the AIA should look like, but it was really just here's theprocess. We've thought this through for no better term kind of kind of defer tothe process. T was that kind of your initial go going into that exercise.Yeah totally. It definitely was very high level. I really helped his framethe IRFP it helped. You know us make sure that when we were putting out thatRFP that were, we were asking for what we actually wanted and so yeah.Definitely what were some of your favorite O or maybe most surprisingtakeways from all these predesign...

...exercises coming from the voices ofyour state holders that you might not have gotten to without having donethose exercises. Well, yeah. I think that you know inHigher Ed web there's always that sort of balance between marketing andinformation and transactional stuff. So you know the website serves manyaudiences and it can't be a hundred percent, a marketing tool. Dependon,who you ask, so you know we try to find that balanceof putting our best foot forward, but also providing the information thatthat any audience may need. So one of the things that we came out of theskoping exercise with- and that was sort of refreshing for me- was thateverybody agreed the primary goal. Is Recruitment AIMD, a perspectivestudents and their families, which seems obvious from a marketing sideofpoint you but isn't entirely obvious to everybody else on the committee, a Dand everybody else on campus, so that was good. I guess, and was there a struggle to get thereor did you just talk it through or...

...where their louder voices on thisdesign Committmee? That kind of helped? You know steamroll that idea down yeahI would even hesitat Yus ere like steamroll. I think it was just you know,based on the the initial research again that value of having some researchupfront from various stakeholders, lums and scurrent students and even Omdifferent bodies. That O know you just sort of started to build the consensusof. Why we're doing this exercise but they're, even you know, theinformational piece of thet business necessarily doesn't mean it's not amarketing piece. I mean the value of having a robust and interesting facultyprofile. Template is as value. You know it's worthwhile, so you know gettingthat faculty buyind like well. You need to help us if we can help you so thatkind of thing, and it was there any particular research that helped peoplein the commititee kind of defer to the research. In terms of you know whatpercentage of folks are perspective? Students versus currtent students OARE?How did the research help you kind of get buying on this process, but part ofit was was seem where we fit within.

You know the broader scope of thingsand taking a sort of a look around of what other schools are doing washelpful and then also just yeah that the specific feedback from my differentstakehold ere's about some, maybe not to kind woris about the current siteand things like that, so that all helped to sort of paint the picture forus. It's awesome and now that you're in the design stage of this process, howhave those kind of predesign exercises and steps you've already taken madethis current part of the process easier? I think the biggest thing is it sort ofreduced any surprises, not so much for me, but for the rest of the committee,so we're actually in a in ten days we're going to have initial designconcepts which I'm very excited about Esaus. I don't really know what we'regoing to get, but even then the importantly we're not starting with thehome page, because that's sort of your billboard right, but that's not wherewe want to start. We want to present some concepts that will sort of buildon that Educational Foundation. We try to give them were building a system,not just a home page with supporting pages. So we want to have whet redesign committee. Take a look at it's...

...some internal pages ND and start tounderstand how the different components of different pages will work togetherand how you can take things out and put things in, and so that modularity ofsort of atomic design and a design system and how it's all going to worktogether. So so yeah they have a clear expectation of. What's coming. You knowopen communication a so yeah, so that part's been really good for for layinga strong foundation to build own. It's awesome awesome but Paul anything.You've learned in the process that didn't feel like it was particularlyhigh value or things that you do differently next time, things that dodifferently next time. Well, I 's a little bit surprised when the proposalstarted coming in from the RFP. We didn't do an open, RFPW, sort oftargeted and different agencies that we wanted to work with, and so we sort ofleft it open, anded ID intenton intentionally, but the scope ofproposals we got back was was interesting and that they all didn'tnecessarily address all of the things in the rof peace S. I guess that Icould do. One thing differently would be maybe to...

...we intentionally less en tagueness justto let them show us what they are capable of, but M, perhaps be moredetailed in what wewere asking for. I don't know on the OPPLICIDEIS. Otheragencies appreciate. Did that sort of open endedness and took advantage of it?So I don't know if that's a lesson learned or not. Now that's fascinatingand I'm sure most agencies aren't used to committees. You know really thinkingthrough the scope before calling on them right. They might have taken yourRFB very loosely in terms of as maybe what' someone on their team thinks theywant, but I'm not sure, and so they cive eck something differently right,and you know I don't know how many times you go through a redesign process.It doesn't happen very often, certainly here, and so it's been interesting justfor me to see owl, ther bits and pieces and owhow they all fit together and andthe biggest benefit O. I think the scoping is it just sets like I saidearlier, so it's a foundation, you know we're all on the same page. Weu have apretty shared understanding of what we're doing here and why we're doing it,and so I think it just really lays the framework for success. I an that wasone of the the selling points of doing it is. That is that so many of theseprojects get sidetracked for numerous...

...different reasons. So far, so good,really good Paul any any next step advice for other institutions about toembark on this web design process. Where should they start? First Yeah Imean, even if you don't go to an outside agency, to try to make surethat your committee is on the same page and as a shared understanding of of whywhy you're doing it, you know we've chosen to sort of break it all down andbuild it up again. I know that there's different paths you can take. You knowsomeone recently, you know shared. You know you can either do what we're doingnd stort of build a new house or you can put a fresh coat of pain on yourold house. I mean there's different strategic values and either things, butwe felt like we were at a point where we wante to really make sure that weere starting from zero and going to build something great, so Paul gratefulfor your time today. Well, what's the best place for listeners to connectwith you if they have any followed questions, I'm Ou theter, probably morethan I should be Penam. My initial pes and then NAM and a m...

...years ago I S A peace core volunteer inthe Mbia, so I sort of grabbed that as my twittering Outthoug, that's awesome.Some thanks againt, so much for joining us today and and sharing the results ofyour process, mid stream and we're excited to see the final product whenit comes out Paul Great Yeah thanks. It's been a pleasure attracting today'snew post, traditional learners means adopting new enrolment strategies.Helooks educations data driven enterprise, wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helox has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing enrolmant growth challengesdownload it today for free at Helocks, Educationcomplaybook you've been listening to enromentgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening until...

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