When it came time to redesign Emory University’s undergraduate admissions website, the team knew they had a tall task ahead. After all, the site did not have a working search bar at the time.
But what followed was a project that not only lead to a new site, but a new working model for branding and collaboration that Emory was able to apply across their whole campus, Emory’s Lisa Coetzee, director of communications, Office of Admission and Susan Carini, Executive Director of Communication, told an audience at High Ed We 2019 in Milwaukee Tuesday.
The admissions team faced a choice: go to outside to a vendor for help, or work with the internal communications team. The choice to work internally not only saved money, but proved to have other benefits as well, Coetzee said.
The teams conducted extensive research: workshops with 31 people from more than 10 internal teams. They condcuted 19 stakeholder interviews with deans and provosts. “There’s no way you could get all those people’s calendars to coordinated over a 3-day visit a vendor might conduct” Coetzee said.
They conducted a survey with more than 12,000 student responses. They held focus groups with parents, current students, prospective students, high school counselors and more.
What resulted from that was more than a website. The comms team decided they wanted to deliver a complete agency experience to enrollment, Carini said. So they produced a positioning platform, 3 communications pillars, a set of defined audiences, brand values and 15 personae to use. They range from counselors to stem students to international parents and beyond.
“I continue to use the personae every week” Coetzee said. “I can go to our leadership and say, this is what you said a year ago.” Coetzee also uses the personae to help train new staff on how to write for the division.
The old site had 100 pages. The new is consolidated to about 70. With a search function. And it’s resulted 14% fewer calls 7% fewer emails. %5 increase in pages per sessions because users are finding what they need. Another benefit: now there’s a model that can be used for Emory’s upcoming whole site redesign.
“It was an example of the collaboration that Emory professes to be all about and is all about,” she said.