The newly redesigned website for the Opus College of Business launched in December, marking the completion of a year and a half of work and collaboration between different teams within Marketing, Insights and Communications (MIC), Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Opus College of Business. However, the Opus website’s relaunch is only the first step in a process intended to continually improve and maintain St. Thomas’ entire website.
The project started in June 2017 as an effort to update both the current Opus website and parts of stthomas.edu that are most relevant to prospective undergraduate students, such as pages dedicated to admissions, student life and specific majors. This was no small undertaking: St. Thomas’ website consists of more than 15,000 individual pages. Due to the magnitude of the project along with the introduction of new leadership within MIC, work on the Opus website was prioritized; the old site was operating on a different technology than other St. Thomas sites, meaning an update was long overdue.
One of the key changes made to the Opus website is improved site navigation, especially for external users, such as recruiters posting job opportunities. In the short amount of time since the website has been posted, employers have already been posting more jobs than on the previous website, indicating there is a greater understanding of whom to contact to post job listings.
The redesigned website is also more interactive, incorporating videos, images and more than 100 stories about students, faculty and alumni. While some of these stories were adapted from St. Thomas Newsroom articles, Opus College of Business also partnered with an outside agency, Brain Traffic, to assist in writing and improving the rest of the website’s content. The final component of the update consists of the site’s overall design.
“It’s a really beautiful, sophisticated design that leverages our purple color, and it’s really fun and engaging,” said Amanda Liu, associate vice president for marketing strategy at St. Thomas.
Moving forward, the intention is for St. Thomas’ main .edu website to prioritize regular updates and maintenance, preventing the need for another extreme overhaul in the future. This outlook of continuous improvement was inspired by the website for the University of San Diego.
“[The website is] a living, breathing thing, and we should always be incorporating new technology, new content and making sure we’re keeping it fresh, so that’s our vision,” Liu said.
Although the new stthomas.edu launch is set for later this spring, the teams working on the website are already looking ahead to the next sections to be updated: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and the second phase of student life, which has so much content that the update is being split into two parts.
At the core of the updates is a focus on the student perspective, especially that of prospective undergrads.
“We know there are other audiences that come to the website to find different things, but the number one audience that we want to be talking to is prospective students,” Liu said. “We’re taking on the viewpoint of the student, not how we’re organized as a school. ... We’re trying to organize things in terms of the audience and not in terms of how we view the world, or how we’re structured.”
With content for each program page coming from multiple sources across campus, the website update is a very collaborative process.
“It involves a lot of people, and it’s been a really strong partnership between all parts of the MIC team along with ITS, and the (school) partner that we’re working with ... We’ve been working really closely with all the schools as we build these program pages,” Liu said. “We’re partnering with people across campus. A really fun part of the project has been having people engage and work together as a team.”