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Like many schools Stillman College delayed redesigning their website because the process can be time- and resource-intensive. According to the Director of Brand Identity, Mr. Natorio Howard, we got stuck in a holding pattern, opting for quick fixes and adding to a to-do list until the day when the time was right, and resources became available.
The trouble is, with an ever-shrinking employee base and tightening budgets, that day rarely comes. In fact, putting off such a valuable component of our recruitment and marketing plan had a high opportunity cost that affects virtually all campus activities, from emergency alerts, events, and web governance to recruitment, data collection, and fundraising.
Everyone is not your primary audience. Yes, certain people and groups may come to your site once in a while, but that’s not your focus. When you try to be all things to all people, you end up fragmenting your message and providing an unsatisfactory experience to all.
The primary audience, from a Stillman College standpoint, is always going to be prospective students. The vast majority of your efforts should focus on the needs of that audience.
Current students? Employees? Alumni? Researchers? Government? All worthy audiences — all not the focus of your main website. When it comes to prioritization of content, flow, and aligning information architecture with user needs the prospective students come first.
Of course, that’s an easy argument to win when you understand what the website’s actually supposed to do. Which leads to our next pain point.
In the end, there are so many things that can impact the success of a project — so, we focused on the top five we see most regularly.
Ultimately, openness and honesty is always the way to solve these problems. It can mean having hard conversations with stakeholders — after all, no one likes being told that they’re “a secondary audience.” But explaining how the site will work for end-users and improve findability of content mitigated that risk — as does evaluating all the other marketing tools we have at our disposal.
Kmarks Web & Computer Solutions, our development partners shared open and honest, explanations of the potential risks, and kept us abreast of the challenges. Both parties were thrilled with the end results.