The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II honored Ursinus with its highest award in the Institutional Home Page category. Ursinus also received a Bronze Award in the Institutional Identity/Branding Programs category. District II encompasses the mid-Atlantic region of the international organization for higher education advancement and communications professionals,
The website redesign project was launched in the summer of 2013, under the leadership of Web Director Paul Dempsey and Web Content Manager Erin Hovey. An advisory committee of faculty and staff worked with the design firm White Whale Web Services on the site’s information architecture, content strategy and design. Communications Office staff, along with faculty and staff from all academic and administrative departments offices, contributed content for the site, which launched in November 2014.
CASE judges commented on the site’s “exceptional redesign that met stated goals and serves as an excellent introduction to the institution for prospective students.” They said that “it is easy to see how the home page, with a strong visual focus, is responsible for increased visitor traffic and pages per session. Engaging current student content is front-and-center on the page, allowing prospective students to see a wide variety of people, majors, activities, and interests to find their ‘fit’ at the school. Navigation elements are clearly aligned with and directed at prospective student audience. Overall tone and feel of the site is very approachable.”
With prospective students as the primary audience, the site features Ursinus students and their interests and activities. “The emphasis was on showing a sense of the Ursinus community,” said Dempsey. The contemporary-looking site uses responsive design features to adapt for display on smaller devices such as smartphones and tablets. “These smaller screens account for an increasing share of traffic to the site,” Dempsey said.
In addition to serving as a marketing tool for prospective students, the site serves as a source of news and information for students, faculty, staff and alumni. To keep it fresh, more than 80 department content editors update their own pages and post news and events listings.
The visual identity update was initiated by Chief Communication Officer Tom Yencho in the fall of 2014. Yencho and Dempsey led a committee of faculty, staff and students working with the graphic design firm Primer. The group defined the qualities that make Ursinus unique and then evaluated and refined design options. The new logo and visual identity system is seen throughout campus in signs, banners, publications and apparel.
CASE District II will acknowledge the achievement at its annual conference in Philadelphia February 7-9, 2016.