One of the biggest mistakes we see people make when it comes to their websites is not prioritizing information architecture. While the design aspects of a website are fun, glamorous, and ultimately vital to the success of your site, it’s important that you don’t jump straight to the design and forgo the important process of building a solid information architecture and understanding the purpose behind your site and its content.
Higher education institutions often have large, complex websites that cater to many audiences who depend on their successful performance: Faculty, students, prospective students, parents and the higher education community at large.
The importance of your institution’s website cannot be understated. The web is now mission-critical, meaning that if your web presence fails, your business operations suffer as well. For this reason, any downtime is an unwelcome hassle for anyone charged with managing the website.
DO Start early
Ideally, feedback should be part of your production plan from the very beginning when you’re looking to release a new website or feature. It’s not only a useful marketing activity to manage your online reputation, but it also may help you find the areas of your business that need improvement. The earlier you ask for feedback, the easier it will be to correct any problems that exist. You can monitor activities manually, or use an all-in-one monitoring service such as Sysomos or Brandwatch.
In recent years, desktop Internet usage has fallen while mobile usage has increased. Last year, Google confirmed that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” If you think the Internet is big, mobile is 10x bigger. Did you know that Google won’t show your website in mobile searches if it isn’t mobile-friendly? But, what does “mobile-friendly” actually mean. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how to design for the best possible mobile user experience of your site
The accessible web means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. This encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities. But web accessibility also benefits others, not just those with disabilities, including people with “temporary” disabilities such as a broken arm, older people with changing abilities due to aging.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990. Its effects are visible in nearly every public space in the form of disabled parking, ramps as alternatives to stairs, Braille signage, and more. Although the need to provide disabled people with reasonable accommodations has been a civil rights issue for decades, one important public space – the Internet – has been largely overlooked up until now.
Your website should be making tasks easier and more efficient — not slowing you down!
Yet this was exactly the problem facing our friends at the Cornell Alumni-Student Mentoring Program (CASMP).
The CASMP program fosters personal and professional relationships between enrolled students and alumni at Cornell University, with over 900 alumni and 2,000 students matched so far. Making an appropriate match requires not only collecting detailed information from applicants, but compliance with security protocols required by the university’s Risk Management Office. The cumbersome process involved an online registration form, answered with a personal reply and waiver form sent via postal mail. Signed waivers had to be returned to CASMP by mail, which were then scanned by an admin and delivered to the Risk Management Office. Missing signatures or errors on the forms, which were not uncommon, required a further round of personal follow-ups for corrections, again via mail. Variance in mail delivery and follow-through from applicants meant that the process typically took a couple weeks at best to complete, and in one case, almost two years! As a result of all the tedium and repetition involved in the application process, registration rates for the program were staying lower than expected.
Sanmita was asked to find ways to streamline the process and make it more efficient. Our expert team was able to quickly assess the site’s functionality and implement automated processes, resulting in dramatic improvements — here’s how we did it: