Forming a Content Strategy Focused on Drexel’s Differentiators
Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, PA, Drexel University is a comprehensive global research university that combines academic rigor with one of the nation’s premier cooperative education programs. It boasts three Philadelphia campuses and other regional sites; the nation’s oldest major natural science museum and research organization; and Drexel Online, one of the oldest and most successful online degree programs. To address the challenges of reaching this diverse range of audiences, Drexel asked Velir to provide the digital strategy, visual design, and Sitecore expertise necessary for a full redesign of its website Drexel.edu.
Drexel’s website faced several challenges that affected its perception and reception with its audiences. Aesthetically, its previous design didn’t match the look and feel of a large urban research university. It also had critical gaps in content about costs, deadlines, and key differentiators of the Drexel experience. Information was siloed and static, reflecting a struggle to surface compelling news and student stories. Because of these issues, visitors struggled to find what they needed and weren’t accomplishing the University’s desired digital goals.
Drexel engaged Velir to help redesign their website with two major goals in mind:
- Drive enrollment and retain highly qualified “Right Fit” students to apply, enroll, and ultimately graduate from Drexel.
- Elevate awareness of Drexel’s reputation as a comprehensive research university and leader in experiential education.
Drexel’s challenges included:
- Updating its website with the look and feel of a large urban research university
- Filling critical gaps in content about costs, deadlines, and differentiators of the Drexel experience
- Surfacing compelling news and student stories on the site
- Managing content effectively and promoting it across sites under Drexel.edu
As Drexel’s design, strategy, and development consultant for this project, we focused heavily on content strategy by auditing Drexel.edu’s page templates, components, custom functionality, and integrations.
Then we designed four template families to cover a variety of Drexel content and sites: Drexel Core, DrexelNow, Drexel Student Life, and Drexel Campaign. Additionally, we crafted a page-level content strategy and hierarchy for templates that informed UX. Leveraging keyword research and analytics, we also made content recommendations for Drexel’s future website.
As part of our redesign, we developed four pillars to build content strategy, content hierarchy, and designs around.
- Showcase Drexel’s differentiators to attract potential students and parents while strengthening Drexel’s brand identity.
- Champion success and innovation by socializing stories that build a sense of pride in the Drexel community.
- Illustrate how Drexel provides value and affordability.
- Create an immersive, engaging experience through audience-based pathways that organize navigation and content by how users search and think.
As a Sitecore consultant we prepared the designs, front-end design prototype, content strategy, and technical insights the Drexel team needed to execute the Sitecore development of their site. With our front-end development support, assistance from our business system analysts in writing development tickets, and Sitecore consulting, Drexel’s developers had everything they needed to bring the project to life.
Our approach included:
- Auditing Drexel.edu’s page templates, components, custom functionality, and integrations
- Designing four templates to cover a variety of Drexel content needs
- Crafting a page-level content strategy and hierarchy for the new site
- Developing four pillars to build content strategy, content hierarchy, and designs around
- Providing Drexel’s developers with the strategy, designs, and technical assistance to bring the new site to life themselves
While Drexel’s developers worked to execute on the strategies we provided them for the new website, we stuck with them every step of the way to offer help from build to launch, and beyond, as we support them post-launch.
The success of our collaboration is reflected in Drexel’s new website, which offers streamlined content and navigation, prominent student and alumni success stories that capture the value of Drexel’s education, and robust content that clearly addresses Drexel’s costs, deadlines, and differentiators. Its homepage uses striking visual assets to illustrate all the unique aspects of the Drexel experience. Its navigation makes it easy to find important content about admissions and financial aid. And its landing pages provide clear messages about the value of a Drexel education, how Drexel makes its education affordable, and the exciting opportunities Drexel student life has to offer.
- A solid foundation for design and development based on deep Discover and Envision phases
- Four template families based on our user-centered atomic design approach
- A responsive front-end prototype framework in PatternLab for Drexel IT to use as a model
- A modern-looking website that reflects an urban research-focused university
- Robust content that clearly addresses Drexel costs, deadlines, and differentiators
- Streamlined content and navigation based on how users think and search
- Prominent student and alumni success stories that capture the value of a Drexel education