If you’ve had the sense lately of waking up to a cleaner, brighter Teachers College, you may be experiencing the refresh of TC’s website, www.tc.edu. The website make-over has raised the bar for a customizable, user-friendly experience that caters to prospective students and gets site visitors where they want to go.
“The refreshed site is a vehicle for any visitor to experience TC’s unsurpassed breadth and depth in teaching, research, and professional practice, explore their passions, and answer their questions,” says James Gardner, Associate Vice President for External Affairs, whose digital team in External Affairs led the upgrade. “Whether you’re shopping for a degree program, connecting to cutting-edge research in education, health, and psychology, or looking for continuing professional development opportunities, you can tailor your search to find exactly what you’re looking for.”
The new website signals its intentions from the first click, with a user-centered, mobile-first design and new navigation reflecting modern information architecture that requires fewer clicks to get to one’s desired destination. These improvements also signal a concerted effort to better support the College’s most important objectives.
“We’ve geared the site more to our external audiences, particularly prospective students and alumni,” Gardner says. “The web refresh is a centerpiece of our ongoing commitment to integrate communications and marketing in support of the College’s objectives in enrollment, fundraising, alumni engagement and reputation management – and to better integrate all of those priorities.”
Consensus and Buy-In
The process for achieving those ends was “enormously collaborative and consultative,” Gardner says, with External Affairs collaborating especially closely with Enrollment Services over the past year as well as with administrators, faculty from every department, current students and recent alumni.
The team also worked with Converge Consulting, a higher education digital firm, to conduct qualitative and quantitative research, including interviews, focus groups and discovery; and to benchmark and test the site’s information architecture with users.
The new 'Academics' page offers a keyword search and filtering based on degree, format, area of interest and/or academic department.
Bells and Whistles
Specifically, the revamped site includes:
- New navigation and an overall improved user experience to enable prospective students and other users to find what they’re looking for more quickly and seamlessly;
- New home page and primary landing pages for Academics, Faculty and Research, About TC, and other key sections.
- New academic department and program templates, with refreshed program content being developed and implemented on a rolling basis.
- A new academics program search tool featuring a keyword search, academic requirements, degree information and admissions content, which will automatically update/populate changes on corresponding program pages on the site;
- A new news content structure, organized by topics reflecting TC’s areas of expertise; and
- New templates, widgets and applications in the site’s content management system that will make it easier for users to interact with and curate content.
Notably, as part of the refresh, “we’ve incorporated a new model for populating content throughout the website with a single database of record,” says Lori Strauss, Senior Web Strategist. “That means that when a new program comes online, the change will automatically appear in the academic program search and any other relevant pages throughout the site.” In a similar change, stories, news articles, and events are now tagged in such a way that they automatically get pulled into the feeds for different departmental website and displayed on the departments’ home pages.
And in yet another improvement, TC’s course catalog is now the site’s sole driver of information about academic offerings.
“Now if you update the catalog, it rolls out across the site so that there are no competing sources of information about courses,” Strauss says.
Gardner credited Suzanne Murphy, Vice President of Development & External Affairs, for “support and inspired guidance” on the project, and in particular for her emphasis on creating a customized search experience for users. He also singled out the work of Strauss; Jonathan Zhang (M.A. ‘16), Full-Stack Web Developer, who created several new tools for the site; Matt Vincent (M.A. ‘13), Director of Digital Communications; and Sara Clough, Senior Director of Strategic Communications & Marketing.
“I am really proud of the work of our team on this project,” Gardner said. “The process and the results have gone hand in hand.”