Customer Spotlight: Cuyahoga Community College

By Kat Liendgens — Thursday, June 11th, 2015 at 10:30am

Tri-C homepage

In late 2014, Cuyahoga Community College, also known as Tri-C, rolled out their long awaited website redesign. The previous site was not responsive and hadn’t had a facelift in four years, resulting in a less than optimal mobile experience. As the website is one of Tri-C’s most valuable assets (generating over 4 millions visits last year alone), the redesign was a top priority project with high stakes and higher possible rewards.

From the beginning, the process was a close collaboration between Tri-C’s Integrated Communications department and the ITS department. The team identified the following project objectives: make the site mobile-friendly, modernize the look and feel, and make content updates as necessary. As Gerard Hourigan, Tri-C’s VP and CIO of Information Technology, put it, “We wanted to have a versatile technology. The primary goal from the technology side was to deliver a tool which supported an array of platforms including mobile smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. We also wanted to provide our internal users a flexible and easy-to-use platform with which to deliver current and relevant content.”

Hourigan, Lisa Dobransky, Director of Content, and Standish Stewart, Executive Director of Enterprise Application Services and Deputy CIO, led the redesign project. The team performed extensive requirements gathering, including surveys of students, faculty, staff, and the community. The College then selected the Adcom Group to provide templates that would be integrated in Tri-C’s new CMS, Cascade Server.

Why Cascade Server? After evaluating their options, Tri-C decided that Cascade Server was the best option to give the College complete control of the site and provide contributors with many options for customization of pages. It also ensures maximum flexibility and scalability while increasing security. “In the past, if a particular author wanted a special feature on the site, the IT department would have to create a special template for it. The site’s features and layouts were locked down. With the new content management system, each page is customizable,” Dobransky said.

The new website is fully responsive and its simple, clean design looks great on all devices, ensuring that site visitors receive an inviting experience, even on smartphones and tablets. The timing of the rollout couldn’t have been better, with the new site going live shortly before Google announced a change to their search algorithm that would favor mobile-friendly sites.

Stewart considers the mobile view one of the biggest accomplishments. “The Tri-C site lives and breathes on any device used and truly helps us to meet students, both potential and current, ‘where they are,’” she said.

Determining site navigation was another crucial factor. According to Stewart, “While both the Integrated Communications and Information Technology Services teams had to learn new software, the biggest challenge was reviewing the website content and developing a method for organizing and displaying this content in the new site layout.”  Tri-C gave a lot of thought to the site’s information architecture and worked with focus groups to optimize it.

The result was a stunning success; the redesigned site is very easy to navigate, allowing Tri-C’s target audience to quickly find what they’re looking for. On entering the website, visitors are immediately able to identify their intentions by with entry points such as “Get Started”, “What’s Happening?”, “Build Job Skills”, and “Summer Classes”. As soon as they make a selection, they’re presented with relevant information designed to best fit their needs. Clear and easy navigation was imperative as there is a ton of information available on the new site, including news, program descriptions, access to course catalogs, stories, photos, a blog and more.

Another part of the rollout of the new design was to integrate the Corporate College® site with the Tri-C website, as it used to exist independent of the College’s site.

“From the consumer side, it was a strategic decision to give the new site a completely new and fresh look and feel which caters to the population outside the immediate walls of the College,” Hourigan wrote. “It was specifically designed to promote the College to potential students and the community at large.”

Reviewing the new site, it is clear that Tri-C not only met their goals but exceeded them. Congratulations on the smooth implementation of a new design and a new CMS, Tri-C!

What about you? Have you recently rolled out a new website design? We’d love to hear from you!

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