Bold images and compelling videos. A responsive mobile design. Audience-driven navigation. These are just a few of the changes that will greet you on the redesigned BC.EDU website that was launched Jan. 17.
The site is the result of a two-year, campus-wide effort to redefine how Boston College is viewed online. The last redesign was in 2006.
The initial phase of a multi-year effort includes the University’s most heavily-trafficked pages: the BC homepage, Admission, Academics, Research, Campus Life, a new Jesuit, Catholic page and the BC News site. The redesign will expand across schools, departments and services in the coming months and years.
A project team consisting of staff members from Information Technology Services (ITS), the Office of News and Public Affairs (NPA) and the Office of Marketing Communications (OMC), worked in consultation with a consulting firm, r2integrated, and stakeholders across the University.
"The project team worked very hard to ensure that the entire effort was truly inclusive," said Vice President for Information Technology Services Mike Bourque. "Hundreds of meetings were held across campus to solicit input. A comprehensive review of higher education and industry websites was conducted. The end product has clearly benefited from the varied perspectives of faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and prospective students. It was heartening to have received such great support for our efforts."
The customized pages, which are still supported by the Adobe Experience Manager content management system, replace the prior, standardized BC web templates. Because the Boston College website has grown to more than 230 distinct sites and 40,000 individual web pages, the site needed to be streamlined, and duplicate content eliminated.
“This first phase represents a transformation of Boston College’s image to the outside world,” said Jack Dunn, director of the Office of News & Public Affairs. “It is an impressive beginning, and we look forward to meeting with deans and vice presidents to discuss next steps in this ongoing and vitally important University project.
“This web redesign would not have been possible without the extraordinary commitment of our project team,” Dunn continued. “Through their efforts, the University now has a website that will vastly improve our ability to tout the outstanding faculty and students who make BC one of the nation’s best universities. This was a truly collaborative effort that followed the input of the campus community and drew on the strengths of BC’s talented staff.”
In addition to the new look, users will enjoy increased functionality: a new event calendar, a streamlined news site and new audience pages that have items of interest to parents, students, faculty and staff. Dynamic photography, engaging videos and concise writing work alongside subtle animations and intuitive navigation to improve the overall user experience.
"The web is often where potential students gain their first impression of the university and it's where many others first encounter us and judge us," said Office of Marketing Communication Executive Director Ben Birnbaum. "The last site was 10 years old -- eons in technology time, which means it didn't offer technological and graphic features that other university sites offer and therefore looked out-of-date. And while first judgments can be turned by subsequent impressions, making the right first impression is the more efficient way to operate."
Creating an industry-leading site
With more than half of visitors to BC.EDU using the site on a smartphone or tablet, it was imperative to have a responsive design, meaning the website would automatically reconfigure on various devices. Bourque said a consistent web experience for all users has been achieved, while addressing accessibility concerns.
“Creating an industry-leading website for Boston College was an exceedingly complex project requiring the dedication of our team for several years,” said ITS Project Leader Scott Olivieri, a doctoral student in higher education administration at the Lynch School of Education. “It’s unlike most IT projects because we’re essentially creating a platform to represent the University to the world. The technology must support the storytelling, not drive or constrain it. A successful higher education website must balance design, content and functionality to create a compelling experience for visitors.”
"This project has been a wonderful, collaborative experience," said Brock Dilworth, managing director of creative services in OMC. "It's easy to get too ingrained in our work silos. But this project has been a perfect example of working together, across departments and offices, to achieve a collective goal, particularly one that should have such a positive effect for Boston College, showcasing the University's many strengths and articulating its mission to the more than 4.6 million people that visit our web site every year."
“It has been exciting to see the reactions to the new site, but this really is a starting point,” said NPA’s Melissa Beecher. “We want to build on what you see today. The collaborative partnership that has been achieved among technical experts, designers and content creators allowed us create a vibrant digital space. With stories, photos, videos and components updated regularly, the site will better reflect the dynamic community that is Boston College.”
What do you think of the new site? Share your feedback here.
The Project Team
Scott Olivieri, ITS Web Technology Manager
Melissa Beecher, NPA Social Media Manager
Brock Dilworth, OMC Managing Director of Creative Services
Diana Parziale, OMC Art Director
Kul Thapa, ITS Senior Web Designer
Chuck Greulich, PMP Project Manager
Dave Lewis, Web Systems Administrator
Yanyan Hou, Interface Designer
Staff from r2integrated
Sean Casey, NPA Senior Creative Producer, Mike Dillon, videographer, Kevin Casey, videographer, Mikal Morello, Web Interface Designer, Garfinkle + Associates, Bari Walsh, writer, Tatiana Flis, OMC Administrative Assistant, Web Chancellor emeritus Jim O’Neill, Ramiro Oliva, Application Developer, Larry Voke, Application Developer, Mary Schorr, ITS Associate Director Business Services, Joe Jerista, ITS Senior Applications Server Administrator