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DeSales University

DeSales students cheering at an event

Understanding the University's DNA

Engaging not just any prospective student, but the kind of student who can succeed at DeSales was a key aspect of our strategy. DeSales students are not educated solely on academic subject matter, but also how to use their knowledge to make an impact on today’s society. Therefore, every design consideration was coupled with content presentation strategies that best communicate how the university prepares students to become citizens of character (valuing hard work and human kindness) on the journey to becoming confident, compassionate leaders serving our global society.

DeSales website displayed across three devices

The DeSales University redesign is a testament to how its tradition and distinct content is presented through an inviting, easy-to-navigate website that cultivates a relationship. The university's DNA is the framework behind a new site that engages, informs, and encourages action with all its audiences. For prospective students, the journey is streamlined, offering a clear pathway depending on what the visitor wants to study and where they are in their education journey.

Any Page Can Be a Homepage

The DeSales communications team embraced our Information Architecture (IA) and User Experience (UX) approaches that recognize just about any page within the site can be the entry point for a new a visitor. Therefore, a consistent look and feel is essential across as many site levels as possible. For instance, with the growth of non-traditional adult learners, we applied the same clean, scannable, intuitive design to the Evening & Online Adult Studies page, and others like it, to ensure the DeSales visual identity and voice were apparent throughout and consistent.

Create Quick Access to Key Information

Transitioning from a website that had a complex navigation structure to a significantly more intuitive experience allowed us to also focus on navigation needs within program or department sections while maintaining access to the site’s main navigation. Stakeholder and end user interviews allowed us to apply equal focus on our client and their audiences when considering the optimal IA strategy. The result is improved user engagement and more informed decision making.

DeSales Website displayed on a laptop
Allow Distinguishing Content to Shine Through

Showcasing DeSales University’s values-based education and mission was just as important as highlighting academic programs. We worked closely with the communications team to develop meaningful and impactful content that presented a complete vision of DeSales University.

DeSales Website displayed on a laptop
Robust Search Tool for a Better User Journey

We developed and implemented an improved IA that aligns with the university’s visitor journey. The DeSales site features a program finder which quickly directs site visitors to all programs through several search and filtering options. This feature moves the prospect to the information they want and enables them to make informed decisions about requesting more information, scheduling a visit, or applying.

DeSales Website displayed on a laptop
Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Improving SEO must be considered from the beginning of a project, and content creation, obviously, plays a critical role here. Our plan specified writing and revising nearly 200 pages of web content as well as providing refined metadata. In addition, we guided DeSales’ communication team through content writing best practices to ensure a consistent voice and tone across new pages they would write. Our content strategy includes easy-to-scan headings, brief but information-rich body copy, and employs expandable content when several related sections of copy need to reside on a common page. SEO and readability testing were the final checkpoints before content was implemented.

DeSales Website displayed on a laptop

Results

Launched in time for the Fall 2018 semester, the DeSales University website is a contemporary virtual front door to campus that delivers a tech-forward experience, while imbuing the traditions that make the DeSales community and educational experience distinctive. Kristin Laudenslager, Director of Web Communications for DeSales University, says, "Since launching the new site, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from both our prospective students and our internal audience." She continues:

"SAI Digital took the time to really get to know us, our many audiences' needs, what makes DeSales different from other universities, and how we work, both as an organization as a whole and within our small web team—and then they absolutely nailed the design."
To celebrate the success of this initiative, Kristin joined SAI Digital’s Mark Dabrowski, at the eduWeb 2018 conference in San Diego, CA to present a case study of the project.

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