It’s a privilege to work with schools around the country, but it’s particularly special when I get to work with a school where I live — in Rochester, New York.
The University of Rochester School of Nursing reached out to mStoner in summer 2015 to reboot its web presence from top to bottom — combining a new web design with new content strategy, messaging, and copywriting. I’m proud of all of the hard work its team did, and the resulting website, son.rochester.edu, is beautiful, functional, and student-first.
Rochester Nursing was concerned that its current user experience was overly complex and that its web content lacked a clear message for prospective students. More importantly, its content wasn’t speaking to the very nuanced needs of the many, varied types of prospective students who apply to the school’s academic programs — everyone from those beginning a career in nursing to those capping a long history of personal growth with a doctoral degree.
Our end goal was a relaunched, refocused website built upon a new content strategy that placed prospective students, academic programs, and Rochester’s research strengths front and center.
Several things about Rochester’s project stand out to me:
The Rochester team has been a real joy to work with. A website relaunch is a lot of work and a lot of stress — but the team members were always on point when it came to the work they needed to do, while never faltering in their kindness, generosity, and positivity. Their attitude and our resulting stellar working relationship were the reasons this project was so successful. Brian Harrington, Nora Hicks-Williamson, Deb Thayer, and the entire team — thanks for being such great partners!
Taking time to truly understand students
I spent an entire day on campus talking to students from each nursing program. Hearing their personal stories about what motivated them to pursue the path they did was invaluable when it came time to produce a new messaging platform and copy.
Getting that much time to unpack the complexities of each degree and the differences between each offering was key to creating new pages that provide prospective students with content tailored to their unique career positions, priorities, and transactional needs.
Focusing on the most important things
Less is more. The fewer things visitors have to focus on, the more likely they will focus on what’s really important. Rochester took this philosophy to heart and went with our recommendation to have just three links in the primary navigation. Those three sections — Academics, Admission, and Research — are what potential nursing students told us they were most interested in. It’s so clean, and so direct — I love it! Kudos to Rochester for staying firm on what not to include — the experience is that much better for it.
Supporting a new position
From the very first, this project had the support and involvement of the School of Nursing’s top leaders, including Dean Kathy Rideout and Associate Dean Renu Singh. This support was key to getting the funding for a new and much-needed web content manager position. They worked hard to hire the best person quickly, so she could support the project toward launch and beyond.
The only regret I have about our work with Rochester is that, with the launch, it’s come to a close … for now. The new website is proof that with the right support, right attitude, and a lot of hard work, a relaunch can be both very fun and very successful.