With more than 38,000 students and over 300 academic degree programs, Philadelphia-based Temple University is one of the nation’s most robust and diverse universities.
As is often the case with institutions of this scale, the university found itself facing a challenge: a disjointed online presence resulting from various interrelated websites that reflect a wide range of voices, aesthetics, design principles, and content philosophies.
Due, in part, to Eastern Standard’s established history in working with Temple and our broad experience in related projects, university stakeholders engaged us to begin an aggressive large-scale initiative to standardize its online identity across its various departments and schools.
We began by creating a website framework that could be applied to meet the diverse objectives of any department within the university, with the first iteration being a site focused exclusively on attracting and engaging prospective incoming students at Temple’s School of Media and Communication (SMC).
After conducting extensive user interface research on the content needs and navigation preferences of incoming students to identify common search patterns, we performed a competitor analysis to determine what content other colleges and universities were providing for external audiences.
Leveraging that data intelligence and the principles of atomic design, we created a range of visual elements, including menus, accordions, slideshows, and text boxes, that can be pieced together in various combinations — much like LEGO® building blocks — to achieve the results sought by SMC. Going forward, we can apply these elements to sites that will be built in the future while maintaining a uniform feel and aesthetic.
Working closely with SMC and a select group of Temple’s communication specialists, we conducted a deep inventory, quality analysis, and consolidation of existing content in order to create three categories: information that is relevant for prospective students; information that should be moved to an existing Temple intranet for currently enrolled students; and information that should be omitted from the new site altogether. Where necessary, we worked with faculty to rewrite and refine existing content for the new site, while prioritizing the optimization of select keywords based on proven SEO principles.
Using both proprietary tools and established algorithms, we were able to compare and contrast the performance and relevance of the new optimized content against other colleges and universities — providing objective proof that its performance is exceeding established expectations. By centralizing various common-use content components, including faculty bios, news, events, and degree and program descriptions, we ensured that they can be exported as needed to “trickle down” to various future sites that share the need for them.
The completed SMC website, designed with a focus on flexibility throughout, presents content in a digitally engaging way while being viewed on any device. And because our approach is based on objective ongoing research, it is intended to be modified over time in response to insight we gain from user testing. Going forward, those Temple departments that adopt this scalable solution will realize significant cost savings because of the flexible and functional proven framework that is now in place.
We applaud Temple’s ongoing affinity for seeking out bold, cutting-edge solutions such as those represented by this project. The benefits will be reaped by students and faculty alike for years to come.