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Higher Education Strategy & Website Overhaul

How Atlantic BT unlocked a pharmacy school's full potential.

Boosting a pharmacy school’s enrollment with a full discovery, design, and development project.

Like most higher education projects, this goal of this redesign was to boost enrollment with a new digital presence. A new website design would need to be effective at engaging prospective students, thematically consistent with the existing university web and brand standards, 508 compliant, and using the existing CMS platform.

Additionally, there needed to be a scalable content strategy that catered to personas and enabled the staff to continue creating pages.

We achieved these goals with a persona-specific content strategy, an engaging and 508 compliant design, and a new system for making web updates. The new website included enhanced features and a scalable content system that supported growth.

The final outcomes.

The new website set a scalable foundation, giving employees the tools they needed to grow.

Enhanced User Experience: User testing results showed simplified navigation and easy access to valuable information that mattered to prospective students.

Defined Personas: Identification of personas and their desired website tasks would drive future messaging, marketing campaigns, and brand strategy.

508 Compliance: Refreshed branding and design is 508 compliant, easing any concerns of OCR complaints and enhancing website accessibility for new audiences.

Scalable Content System: Building the new website with Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) empowers employees to create new pages, staying within predetermined styles for brand consistency.

Simplified Web Optimization: With ACF, it’s simple for web development teams to implement design changes, minimizing the need for support down the road.

Here’s how we did it…

“The Steering Committee members are Pharmacists. They are scientists, so the key is to show them the research and data behind design decisions.”

Convincing stakeholders with thorough research.

Atlantic BT executed a full Discovery, conducting research and analysis that shapes the overall strategy for design and development. Phases of the Discovery included:

  • Analyzing a partner’s brand research with NLP
  • Creating personas and identifying pain points
  • SEO audit
  • Accessibility Audit
  • Card sort
  • Tree testing
  • Content audit

Research showed which personas to target, proving motivations and pain points that would shape design.

Conducting these exercises helped Atlantic BT identify that there are several tasks that a PharmD prospective student would like to accomplish. For instance, prospective students wanted to learn more about career paths post-degree, they were looking for application requirements, and they wanted to know more about learning methods in the program.

Atlantic BT got to work incorporating research into design. We designed components that would highlight the school’s prestige by showcasing statistics, give students a feel for culture through photography, and help students access the information they needed quickly.

Validating design by testing a prototype with real prospective students.

Before the web development phase, Atlantic BT validates the design by testing a prototype. In this instance, user testing involved:

  • Asking subjects to perform tasks on the prototype
  • Having subjects fill out a questionnaire regarding their experience
  • Interviewing subjects

Although not directly asked about aesthetics in interviews, participants overwhelmingly used the terms “clean” and “modern” to describe the site. A number of users also said that the aesthetics were not overwhelming or chaotic – matching Atlantic BT’s goal to reduce information overload.

Results from user testing pinpointed successes and areas to improve.

We found patterns in students mentioning the website is modern, clean, and not overwhelming. Many participants praised the use of imagery and the comprehensiveness of the homepage.

  • “It’s pretty clean. I like that there is a lot of space. It’s breathable.
  • “It looks cleaner and a lot less chaotic.”

Areas to improve included using more impactful statistics and adjusting navigation labeling.

  • “I’m not really sure what Centers would mean.”
  • “I think that’s good, but it’s also like, top 25, that’s a lot of different pharmacy schools.”

“With user testing results, you’ve accomplished in 2 hours what we could not do in 1 year – convincing stakeholders that a new design is valuable.”

Web Development: Using advanced custom fields would balance flexibility and governance.

The current site was built with Page Builder – a WordPress plugin that was challenging for both staff and web developers to use. Furthermore, Page Builder allowed staff to create pages free of predetermined styles, spawning issues with brand consistency and user-friendliness.

To address these issues, Atlantic BT decided to develop the website using Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). Benefits would include:

  • Flexibility to add pages, while staying within design constraints
  • Ease of iterative design and development
  • Scalability to add new pages and make tweaks
  • Reduced support needs

Beyond bringing a new design to life, Atlantic BT built a new system for university employees. With varieties of different layouts for a single template, employees would have the flexibility to create pages that fit their vision. However, the predetermined styling of components ensured that these new pages would stay within brand standards.

The final result was much more than a modern-looking website.

The new website would help the university propel future marketing campaigns and be more efficient with future web development.

  • Enhanced user experience
  • Defined personas
  • Content that drives market position
  • 508 compliance
  • Scalable content system
  • Simplified web optimization

With these components in place and working together, the university’s pharmacy school is now set up to impactfully market their brand, driving admissions and enrollment while gaining market leadership.

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