Sharing those discoveries in an engaging way with prospective students was the main priority for Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jeff Fowler in relaunching slu.edu. Changing the entire university’s approach to its web presence was another.
SLU is regarded as one of the country’s most prestigious Jesuit universities. However, as Fowler said, the “old website was designed like an org chart. It was very siloed and didn’t make sense to someone from the outside. It was just not competitive or modern for the audience we wanted to reach. It was really a workplace tool, not a marketing tool.”
SLU’s recent rebranding also created a perfect opportunity for a relaunch. Susan T. Evans, lead strategist who worked on the SLU project, said, “In parallel with the website redesign, they were rolling out a new visual identity. It was really wonderful to have the new identity system before our design team started. We incorporated their beautiful new typography, logo, and refined color palette into our web templates, so that SLU could roll all of it out with a brand-new website.”
Fast forward: The new site launches on time, on budget. The design is clean, high-impact, stunning on mobile, and brimming with institutional pride. Every one of SLU’s 190 academic program pages now features fresh, prospect-focused content. The university community almost unanimously applauds the new site. Internal units are lining up to use the new content management system (CMS). Virtually every metric shows the site is bringing in more visitors. The university agrees to enact a policy that any new pages under .edu will use the new web templates. The entire site is consistent — both in branding and beauty — so visitors know: “This is SLU.”
Fowler, one of the most effective marketing professionals we’ve worked with, reflects on the best practices he and the mStoner team used to shift SLU’s digital marketing culture and elevate the university’s web presence across the board:
It’s easy to bite off too much in the first phase of the rollout. The mStoner team helped us figure out the best bang for our buck.
— Jeff Fowler, vice president of marketing and communications, Saint Louis University
“Discoveries — big and small” truly are happening at SLU every day, if site traffic is any measure. Prospective students are accessing information and engaging more than ever. Metrics for the number of sessions, page views, pages per session, and time on site all have increased compared to the same period a year ago.
The first quarter of 2018 (January-March 2018) shows many positive increases in recruitment-focused metrics, compared to the same time frame in 2017:
Most notably, SLU surpassed its enrollment goal and recruited the largest and academically strongest first-year class in the university’s 200-year history for the 2017–2018 academic year.
“The change in aesthetics, the tone — it just strikes me every day how much more engaging, how much better the site looks,” Fowler said. “The change for us was so dramatic, and I just think we made a tremendous jump from where we were to where we are now.”
Content and web strategy, discovery interviews and town hall meetings, project management strategy, responsive redesign, content writing, competitor research, content audit, usability testing, information architecture (IA), content management system (CMS) selection and implementation, thematic CSS development, programming assistance, quality assurance testing, site governance, sustainability recommendations, search analytics
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