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York College of Pennsylvania

Exterior of a York College of Pennsylvania building with a student walking across it

Since the initial redesign effort in 2015, SAI has partnered with York College of Pennsylvania to continuously improve performance of their primary website, ycp.edu. As marketing goals shift and audience behaviors evolve, SAI works alongside the YCP team to create the optimal Mission Experience for prospective students.

The Challenge

Engaging prospective students from day one.

Established in 1787, York College of Pennsylvania is a private, four-year college known for its focus on experiential learning and community engagement. It serves over 4,000 undergraduate students in more than 70 baccalaureate majors, along with 450+ graduate students and more than 20 graduate and professional programs.

Amidst a highly competitive marketplace, YCP launched a new brand platform designed to increase visibility and build reputation for the College. New messaging and a marketing campaign helped increase awareness for York College and drove traffic to the main website, ycp.edu.

As prospective students became aware of York College and visited the homepage, analytics showed that people weren’t always engaging with content about undergraduate and graduate programs. The team needed to increase homepage conversions by demonstrating interest in academic programs. Marketing goals included reducing the bounce rate and connecting interested students to the enrollment funnel as they learned about York College's many programs.

The Approach

Combining brand and user insights to create a more rewarding experience.

Cohesive brand messaging is important for building awareness and reputation, but websites that simply publish brand messages fail to engage audiences. The York College homepage needed to draw in prospective students and spark meaningful interactions, which is why we started the project with in-depth user testing. We conducted a series of one-to-one tests with prospective undergrad and graduate students to better understand their thought process as they completed tasks like finding their desired major or requesting financial aid information.

User testing led to insights about how prospective students think about critical tasks and site navigation. For example, we observed how users interpreted bold color blocks as a series of steps. This helped us identify an opportunity to introduce graphic elements to guide students to the next step in their journey.

These insights informed decisions about content hierarchy and how to streamline the overall homepage experience to make it easier for prospective students to engage with the content. We also introduced an enhanced user experience for the navigational menus to eliminate “sound alike” terms and improve click-through to second-level pages. These changes helped prospective students connect with the brand, which led to better outcomes for prospective students and York College.

The Results

Improving metrics that drive business results.

Within the first eight weeks, York College saw tremendous improvement in site performance metrics:

  • 15% decline in bounce rate
  • 7% increase in goal conversions

*Based on Google Analytics from June-July 2021

New YCP homepage on a desktop and mobile device
“Working with SAI has been different from our experience working with other creative and marketing agencies, in the best possible way. The team’s Mission Experience focus was a unique approach that helped us think about our website in terms of the impact it would have on prospective students and our brand objectives,”
Mary Dolheimer
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
York College of Pennsylvania

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