Our Website Development Process
We are excited to be starting your website development project, and wanted to kind of get things kicked off by explaining to you a little bit about our website development process. Now this might seem a little impersonal as opposed to an online webinar where we get everybody together in a room and committee to discuss this. We like to do these screenshare videos because there might be somebody who can’t attend a committee meeting, you might want to inform administration of what the process is, and you can share it with people outside the committee, so we really like the video format and hope you appreciate that.
First thing I want to talk to you guys about is our website development team. My name is Jonathan Medford, I’m the senior account manager and partner in the company. I do a lot of the strategizing for the accounts and I do a lot of the direct communications with clients and the onboarding process. Emmalee Zupo is our main project manager, so you’ll be communicating with her quite a bit. Also, Jake Mayfield is our senior web developer.
The Five Phases
Now, we pretty much break down our web development process into five phases.
- Review & Training
- Website Launch
So let’s talk about the Discovery phase a little bit. What we really do to kick this off is a survey. We want to get feedback from all of the different audiences for your website, so we’re talking to alumni, faculty & staff, administration, students, and community partners. We’ve already developed a survey in SurveyMonkey for you to use, and here’s some of the questions that we typically ask on a survey.
- So the survey can include contact information, but can not if you want it to remain anonymous.
- We ask how they are associated with the school so we can send it to everybody, making it simple.
- How often do you visit our website?
- Overall, how well does our website meet your needs?
- How often do you use the following resources to get information?
- We provide the different resources available on our website.
- How often do you access our website from a computer vs. tablet vs. phone?
- How easy is it to find what you were looking for on our website?
- Does it take more or less time than you expect to find what you were looking for on it?
- How visually appealing is our website?
- How easy is it to understand the information on it?
- How much do you trust the information on it?
- And how likely is it that you would recommend our website to a friend or colleague?
- So that’s just a few examples of some of the survey questions we like to ask.
We like to get a lot of quantitative data, but we love the qualitative data as well.
Google Analytics & Heatmap Tools
Next thing we do is get access to your Google Analytics account so that we can do a visitor flow analysis. We want to know what pages on the website visitors are landing on and then what are the pages they’re going to next? What’s the first interaction, what’s the second interaction? And this is where we can particular areas that are problems to navigation for people, and navigation is extremely important.
Another tool that we utilize is heatmap tools. This is the coolest thing to come out in the past couple years. But heatmap tools allow you to make up for some of Google Analytics drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks with google analytics is let’s say you have a link to your apply now page in three different spots on your homepage. Well you know that 15% of your users go to the apply now page from the home page, but you don’t know which exact link they’re clicking on. With heatmap tools, you do know, and that’s really powerful.
One thing that heat maps can’t do, they can’t really see what’s happening on a drop down menu, but you’re able to see things like here’s our popular links menu and the SEC foundation isn’t really a popular link on this website, so we should put something that would be more useful to the users on here. Perhaps it should be changed to a more action-oriented term like give rather than SEC foundation.
Quick Links and Website Development Plan
Another thing we use is a quick links menu, and we discovered that Moodle was used heavily on the quick links menu so that’s an area where it could be moved up to the top of the navigation menu. One cool thing about working with College Inbound as a SAS company is we’re constantly evolving your website based on data like this, and this is one of the tools that we use. Another area we like to look at are best practice websites. Here is kind of a listing of some best practice websites and you’ll have a copy of this presentation as well. We also have a link to college inbound with links to every single community college website in the country, so you can browse through and see what websites you like out there. Maybe there are certain features that are out there that you really want to see implemented on your site. Navigation is absolutely key. This is a blog post that we wrote recently called “7 Navigation Menus to Improve Your Community College Website”. We like to implement these menus into our design and I’ll send you information with a link to this blog post so you kind of get a feel, but a lot of this information will end up being in our website development plan. The website development plan is kind of the culmination of the discovery phase. We calculate our survey results, we report on the content analysis, we develop a design brief for the graphic designers, and we do wire frame designs for the home page, for the program pages, and a responsive design plan as well as sitemap.
The creative phase is the fun phase of the project. We have three to five different designers that we work with on a consistent basis, and we put together a creative brief for them so that they really have a nice frame board for what we want in the site, but they have the creative freedom to put their own creative spin on it. The beauty of working with three to five different designers is we’re able to come up with multiple mock-ups of the website so you’re pretty much insured you’re going to have an option that you really like and that you think will work within the design of what you guys are looking for. One of my favorite things about our process for design is our is our feedback process. Each option is going to be part of a survey and your team is going to be able to rate each design from 1 to 5 stars and also provide qualitative feedback as well. We want to know what you like about a design, what you don’t like. This anonymous person that rated it but didn’t provide any feedback, that’s not very useful. We’re looking for a person that’s really going to give us some feedback. What’s great about this is that people on the committee can be involved, administration outside the committee can be involved as well, it’s whatever you guys want to do. This is just some examples I throw in here to show you before and after, what we’ve been able to do for some other community colleges. This was Southeastern Community College, this is their home page before and their home page after. You can see the design aesthetic was vastly improved with our system. This is their early childhood education program page, massive improvement. Once we lock down your design, we’re also going to develop responsive design based off the winning design, so we’ll know exactly what your page is going to look like on a tablet and on a smartphone.
The next phase is the Technical phase. This is where we slice up the winning photoshop file, we do all the CSS programming, make sure everything translates nicely into our system, we develop any new features of the website that are required before we launch. A lot of these features we’ve already developed for other community colleges and we do the big task of migrating the existing content from the current website and putting it into the new format on the new website. And then finally, when that’s all done, we make sure the responsive design is completed as well.
Review & Training
The next phase is review and training. We put together a training video library that shows you how to update everything on our website. This will be as soon as you log into the dashboard of the college inbound system, you’re going to be able to view all the videos that’s going to allow a user to know how to do virtually everything. This is also the phase where departments are going to be like “you know what, we have some old information on our page, it’s time we update this. We don’t want to transfer over this old data from the old website into the new website.” This is where we can get hung up. This phase can really lengthen if we don’t do this right, so we really try to get a jump on fresh content early in the process. Start getting your department heads thinking about that now so that we can get their content where they want it to be when we launch the new website. Finally, we find the bugs and work out the kinks and fix all the bugs before we launch the website, and that’s the final phase.
Timeline and Final Thoughts
To go over a timeline a little bit, Discovery phase is going to be between one to two weeks, the Creative phase is two to three weeks, Technical and Content Migration is six to eight weeks, Review and Training is two to four weeks, and Website Launch is one week. So overall, a typical timeline is between twelve and eighteen weeks to get your new website launched. Now if anybody has any questions, we like to have one point of contact, we don’t want to have ten different people communicating with us, it’s not efficient for us and it’s not efficient for you guys so we want to have one point of contact. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to have the point of contact ask them and we’ll be happy to get those answered for you. Everyone here at College Inbound, we’re really excited to be working on your project, we really appreciate you choosing us, and we’re going to make it a really good website. Thanks a lot.