With the launch of the School of Social Work’s new website, the University has hit a significant milestone: All of Boston College’s eight schools boast new websites, thanks to the efforts of the Office of University Communications in partnership with Information Technology Services.
The new sites feature an attractive and innovative design with vibrant video content, photo slideshows, carousels, and graphic elements. Most significantly, the new webpages are responsive, meaning content is viewable on desktop computers, tablets, and smart phones to accommodate the preferences and user habits of high school and college–age students. Created by a BC team using the same content management system, the pages reflect a strong and unifying Boston College brand.
“The new websites are a welcome addition to Boston College. They have significantly enhanced the University’s marketing, student recruitment, and alumni engagement efforts,” said Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn. “The web team has done outstanding work in a true partnership between the Office of University Communications, ITS, and the academic community. Their work will pay meaningful dividends to the University and its eight schools and colleges for decades to come.”
“The development and delivery of these new websites for Boston College and the schools has been successful due to the great teamwork and professionalism of our partners in the academic community and the Office of University Communications and Information Technology Services,” said Vice President for Information Technology Michael Bourque. “These sites represent a new platform for presenting the very important and very impactful work of Boston College. We are truly proud of our involvement in this effort.”
Below: The Boston College home page at bc.edu is one of the new sites created by the University Communications-Information Technology Services partnership.
The OUC Web Services team is led by Scott Olivieri and includes Melissa Beecher, Brock Dilworth, Diana Parziale, and Brian Snyder. OUC Web Services partners with Yanyan Hou and Kul Thupa from ITS.
The team worked closely and collaboratively with academic partners and site owners on the redesign process, conducting peer assessments and focus groups for each of the schools and colleges. A content strategy was created to guide the development of the website to ensure it met the goals of the schools and departments, while also connecting it to the larger BC brand.
The websites’ important roles in attracting prospective students and faculty, as well as in peer assessment, cannot be overstated, administrators say. Based on analytics, the BC home page has been viewed 26 million times during the course of one year. BC Law School had more than a million page views, as did the Lynch School of Education. The University’s largest school, the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, has had 3.4 million page views.
But visits to the websites tell only half the story. The goal is to make certain users are fully engaged with the website. Through analytics, the web team is able to see how users navigate the site and how much time they spend on a particular webpage. According to Olivieri, “time on page” has doubled on many top-level webpages, indicating that visitors are engaging with the content—reading student profiles, reviewing program information, and watching videos.
“The new Admission website is an extraordinary enhancement both in terms of its design and functionality.Technology drives the college search for today’s generation of college applicants, and having a first-rate University website is essential in enabling students to explore all that Boston College has to offer. Given that the vast majority of students view websites on their phones or tablets, the website’s responsive design also ensures that content will be easily accessible.”
Also redesigned through the initiative were sites for the Carroll School of Management, Connell School of Nursing, Woods College of Advancing Studies, and School of Theology and Ministry.
“The STM’s new website has been a real boon for us,” said School of Theology and Ministry Dean and Professor Thomas D. Stegman, S.J. “The site’s functionality for prospective students, the attractiveness of faculty pages—which are also easy to update—the ability to communicate all the events that go on at the school, and the professionally produced videos are all major improvements. The website presents well the STM’s ‘face’ to the world.”
In addition to the school websites, the web team has redesigned the University’s home page, BC News page, and Undergraduate Admission site, as well as sites for virtually every center and institute. They have also created new webpages for the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, and a page for BC’s Global Engagement initiatives. In total, the BC web team has redesigned and launched 81 websites in less than three years.
“The new Admission website is an extraordinary enhancement both in terms of its design and functionality,” said Undergraduate Admission Director Grant Gosselin. “Technology drives the college search for today’s generation of college applicants, and having a first-rate University website is essential in enabling students to explore all that Boston College has to offer. Given that the vast majority of students view websites on their phones or tablets, the website’s responsive design also ensures that content will be easily accessible. We are grateful to the Office of University Communications for leading this initiative, which has greatly enhanced our ability to engage with this important audience.”
The web team’s job is not limited to making the website aesthetically pleasing: Members work on the “backend” to make sure the sites are at their optimal effectiveness. This means trimming page counts and making sure the site is prominent on search engines (search engine optimization or SEO), as well as making certain the content is compliant relative to copyright and fair-use rules, and accessible to those with disabilities.
The web team has also developed a new University Events calendar tool that is integrated with the new websites, so events uploaded via the tool are automatically displayed on the website. Also, all the new webpages are unified under a universal bar that provides quick links to BC’s resources, as well as a search function.
Olivieri noted that the team is consistently enhancing webpage components and developing new features. Because all the new sites use the same content management system, these enhancements can be utilized by website managers across campus, so that even “completed” websites can benefit from ongoing improvements.
With the University’s home, admission, and academic websites completed, the web team will turn its attention to redesigning websites for the administrative side of the University, starting with University Advancement on Dec. 3.
“It is an intensive process, led by a hardworking team of professionals who have devoted themselves to this important task throughout the past 30 months,” said Dunn. “Having a new website that reflects the BC brand, and which can be constantly updated and improved by internal staff, will ensure that we are presenting the University in the best possible light to all those who visit our site. We look forward to embracing the administrative phase of web redesign beginning in December.”
--Kathleen Sullivan | University Communications | November 2018