New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Website Revamp Leads To A 164% Increase in Admissions Page Visits

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Last Updated: May 2, 2024 11:00 AM

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Founded in the heart of New Orleans in 1917, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) has long stood as a beacon of theological education, spiritual growth, and ministerial training.

With a history of over a century, NOBTS has evolved, embracing the traditional modes of education and the digital frontiers that define the contemporary landscape of higher education. 

Amidst this evolution, the institution recently embarked on a digital transformation and strategic web management, spearheaded by Paul Eastwood, the Seminary's Website Administrator.

This article spotlights NOBTS's website refresh journey, focusing on how strategic planning and vision led to a more seamless, visitor-centric web experience.

Through this transformative process, NOBTS leveraged tools and resources, including Cascade CMS by Hannon Hill, to effectively meet its goals and enhance digital engagement.

The Challenge: Overhauling a Cluttered Website Navigation

NOBTS faced a challenge that many institutions encounter:

A website navigation system that had grown complex over time.

This complexity arose from a collaborative design process, reflecting a wide array of inputs and perspectives.

While this approach ensured a comprehensive representation of the seminary's offerings, it also resulted in a navigation structure crowded with links that were infrequently used and intended to appeal to too wide of an audience, making it difficult for visitors to find the information they needed quickly. 

NOBTS 2022 Navigation

(NOBTS navigation in 2022)

Such intricacy in the website's navigation could potentially impact the visitor experience and engagement, particularly for prospective students exploring the seminary's offerings.

The Strategy: A Focused, Visitor-Centric Approach

Undertaking a strategic website refresh, Paul Eastwood set a clear objective: 

To differentiate links of interest to prospective students from those pertinent to current students, thereby refining the site's navigation. 

With a decade of experience in marketing and web design under his belt, Paul's approach was deeply rooted in an understanding of visitor engagement and website usability. 

The initiative aimed to declutter the main navigation, streamline content, and render the site more navigable and appealing to its primary audiences.

Implementation: Leveraging Cascade CMS for Efficiency and Consistency

A crucial aspect of NOBTS's digital transformation was the effective use of Cascade CMS, which enabled Paul to execute the website refresh efficiently, facilitating significant content reuse across the site.

Through Cascade, the seminary ensured a consistent look and feel across its main site and the newly created student dashboard by sharing headers, footers, and CSS files.

This approach guaranteed a unified visitor experience, allowing for updates to be made with ease and precision.

NOBTS Spotlight - website 2024

(NOBTS navigation in 2024)

Results: Enhanced Navigation and Positive Feedback

The website updates led to improvements in metrics such as bounce rates and visitor engagement.

More significantly, there was an increase in visitors reaching the apply page, indicating that the improved site navigation effectively directed visitors toward key actions.

Year-over-year, visits to NOBTS's Admissions page have increased 164%, visits to its Financial Aid page are up 9.5%, and visits to NOBTS's search page are down 6%, which indicates fewer people have trouble finding what they need.

The refresh also garnered positive anecdotal feedback, especially from those already associated with the institution, validating the enhanced usability and appeal of the site. 

NOBTS’s updates explained 

Following these website enhancements, the process of design and approval for the new interfaces was thorough.

HTML mockups for both nobts.edu and the new Student Dashboard were constructed using a Cascade template, allowing for a fully navigable prototype with functional links.

These were initially presented to the Director of Communications, who provided valuable feedback that was incorporated into the designs.

Subsequently, the mockups were showcased to the Executive Vice President, whose insights led to minor yet crucial adjustments, particularly the addition of key items in the navigation menu.

With approval secured, the designs were transitioned into modular blocks and formats within the system.

The transition to the live environment was streamlined, involving merely the replacement of the existing templates with the new ones and publishing the updated pages.

This process not only complemented the initial site improvements but also reinforced the commitment to creating a user-friendly and visually appealing online presence.

The Power of Support and Strategic Vision

The success of NOBTS's website refresh project highlights the importance of strategic vision and the right implementation tools. 

Crucial to the project's success was the institutional support from the executive team, which was pivotal in making the necessary, substantial changes to the site. 

This synergy between administrative backing and technical execution exemplifies a model for successful digital transformation in the realm of higher education.

Setting a Precedent for Higher Education Websites

By prioritizing visitor experience, utilizing Cascade CMS’s content reuse capabilities to their full extent, and ensuring institutional support, NOBTS has not only refined its website's functionality but also significantly advanced its engagement with its audience.

This was accomplished by consolidating the CSS file across the main site and the new student dashboard for uniformity and synchronized footer content such as copyright information and updates.

NOBTS’s web team also streamlined the header styles into templates that pull from a single navigation block, reducing the need for duplicate updates.

As professionals in higher education marketing and web management, we continuously strive to balance comprehensive information delivery with a streamlined visitor experience.

The transformation at NOBTS highlights the significant impact of strategic web design and management on enhancing a digital presence.

It demonstrates that with the right planning, tools like Cascade CMS, and a focus on visitor-centered design, institutions can significantly elevate their web platforms.

Complete the form below to discover how Cascade CMS can transform your website into a dynamic tool for engagement and achievement. 

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Chris Rapozo
Marketing Specialist

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