1. Assessment of the Existing Site in 2011
In 2011 discussions began about a website redesign, as the current site was 7 years old, with nearly 6000 pages of content created by some 400 users. The original architecture had run amuck, with over 70 links from the homepage alone! The number one topic at a SunGard site visit in late 2011 was the website’s incoherence and lack of functionality.
The site’s primary users were found to be prospective students, both traditional and nontraditional, and their influencers: parents, teachers, peers. Secondary users are current students, faculty and staff, and visitors – looking to perform actions via site functionality (grades and schedules, forms, directories, calendars, ticket purchase and so on).
Thus, the agreed-upon mandate for the redesign was the repurposing of the institutional Brookdale website as an outward-facing recruitment tool designed to attract and support enrollment of students, with a secondary focus on promoting functionality such as Acalog and the MyBrookdale Portal, and a college-wide calendar solution.
Once underway, the re-design timeframe was determined to be May 2012 to October (later adjusted to December) 2013.
Scope of Project included:
- Define Key Services & Resources, Calls to Action, Key Applications & Requirements
- Determine and Choose Content Management System
- Define 1st & 2nd Tier Architecture
- Determine Content Workflow & Owners
- Design Home Page / Create Inner Page Template Design
- Install, Customize & Configure Core Applications & Plug-ins
- Generate Site Structure & Content
- Create CMS Training
- Identify Stakeholders & Content Managers and Provide Training
2. Website Steering Committee Formed in Early 2012
In Spring 2012 a call went out to the College community for volunteers to join a college-wide Website Steering Committee, charged with collective input, guidance, and even outright decision making as the new website progressed.
Website Steering Committee original members (at kick-off):
Norah Kerr McCurry
Riina Van Rixoort
The Steering Committee began meeting during Summer and Fall 2012 to discuss every aspect of the new site’s progress.
- Increase credit and noncredit student enrollments
- Provide accurate and thorough information about the college
- Improve the Brookdale online experience
- Increase engagement and retention
- A welcoming environment, dedicated faculty and staff
- Multi-campus, flexible scheduling, student resources
- Increased focus on parents and community members
3. The SunGard/Ellucian Role – The Build
Our SunGard/Ellucian project management team consisted of Camille Shelley, Jennifer Carrozzelli, and Michelle Shadrake; project designers and web developers were Lucas Stark, Jason Cook, Justin Peacock, and Larry Kelly. For Brookdale, Laurie Bender took the role of project manager, with assistance from webmaster Holly Peterson.
After SunGard’s provision of a thorough Website Assessment and detailed Scope of Project & Deliverables, a campus visit was arranged for the first week of November 2012, so the Ellucian team could personally meet and interview over two dozen key website constituents including Communiversity, Recruitment, Registration, Counseling, Student Activities, International Center, Library, Academic Affairs, Testing Services, TLC, College Store, and others.
All campus departments were asked to fill out a “Preparing Your Department’s Content” questionnaire so the web team could manage migration of existing content for all clients.
At the same time, Ellucian designers were developing early “wireframe” architecture for the new homepage.
During the Summer 2013 terms, content migration began in earnest.
Thousands of Word documents, JPG images, and PDFs were brought onto the new WordPress environment by both Ellucian and Brookdale team members. Many documents were moved into the Portal as they were for internal use only. About 400 html pages were migrated into the new site, and about 600 were newly built from scratch.
In the autumn of 2013, Ellucian web developer Jason Cook arrived on campus for two weeks to offer WordPress training to content owners, and to fine tune aspects of the new site with Laurie Bender and Holly Peterson.
Some of the more web-intense campus clients included OBCD, Admissions & Registration, Academic Departments, HEC’s, Transfer Resources, Testing Services, Purchasing, and Student Life & Activities – these offices built and now maintain their own websites under the Brookdale umbrella.
4. The Launch
The new site was moved onto a production server in December 2013 for QA testing of links, content, SEO optimization, working images, functionality of third party software, and more. Over the holiday break, the new site went live, with the Ellucian/Brookdale team members on deck for potential problems and fast repairs. When the majority of faculty and staff returned from break the site was live – Monday, January 6, 2014.
Visit New Website: The Numbers for a look at who’s visiting, who’s talking to us and what they’re saying, and how your input can help.