St. Thomas has a new digital front door.
With its June 14 launch the university’s main .edu website has a revamped, dynamic look, feel and function, all aimed at helping give prospective students the best possible experience for gathering information and getting to know St. Thomas.
"This is the university's number one marketing vehicle and the place people start when they want information about St. Thomas," said Amanda Liu, associate vice president for marketing strategy at St. Thomas. "We know how important it is for people, and with the redesign we're able to bring our brand and messaging to life in a way that is interesting, engaging and informative for the prospective students and their parents, if they’re undergraduates.”
This initial phase of the launch features changes to the main www.stthomas.edu pages and navigation, as well as admissions and financial aid. Subsequent phases over the next three years will revamp the website sections for each of the different schools, colleges and other areas of the university. A continuing goal it to reduce the number of pages by 50 percent in every area, Liu said.
A two-year process leading to the June 14 launch featured collaboration across Marketing, Insights and Communications (MIC), Information Technology Services (ITS), and faculty and staff from every school across St. Thomas. Dozens of key stakeholders across campus, focus groups with prospective students and analysis of site analytics helped inform an extensive site restructure and redesign to make a more engaging and exciting site. (A large range of internal information also migrated into the OneStThomas intranet.)
This stage represents the beginning of a continual, ongoing process of site evolution, informed by analytics (tagging and tracking of how users are engaging with the site) and stakeholder feedback.
"This is really a kickoff of a three-year process to redo the entire site, and when that's complete we'll start right back over again and continue improving," Liu said.
Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of program pages for every undergraduate major, minor, concentration area and pre-professional program. Each program page now has detailed information including courses, career paths, featured faculty and alumni stories.
"We learned through studying the college selection journey that one of the first things students are looking for is, ‘Do you have a strong program in the field I want to study?’ They were going to the course catalog, which wasn’t the most effective way for them to access the information they wanted," said Katie Jensen, associate vice president of insights and analytics. "If they can’t find the information about what they want to study, or they do find it and they’re not impressed, there’s not as much incentive for them going further into the process. This completely changes that process."
“We expect this to be one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the new site,” Liu added. “You can also expect easier navigation so you can actually find the things you’re looking for, as well as a more engaging design.”