A Taste of Design

A very small component of the Modern design concept.

A very small component of the Modern design concept.

Thank you to the many faculty, staff, and students who have participated in the website design presentations over the past few weeks. We’re happy to hear so many are as excited as we are about the overall design direction of the site.

We know not everyone was able to attend one of the web design presentation sessions. If you or a colleague were unable to attend and are interested in seeing the design progress, please contact us at marketing@hope.edu, x7150, or stop by the Integrated Marketing office located on the second floor of Anderson/Werkman. We’d be delighted to show you what all the talk is about!

P.S. if you’re interested in learning more about the overall website redesign (past and future) see our project timeline.

Modern Design Concept

A very small taste of an "event card" from the Modern design concept.

A very small taste of an “event card” from the Modern design concept.

We are very excited to be moving in the direction of the “Modern” design! This concept is meant to reflect the liveliness and energy of Hope College. The details within the concept uphold the excellence of the college. The academic focus is presented in the photography, copy, and numbers. The typography is modern, introducing a new web font that compliments the Hope brand fonts. The concept’s colors focus on the primary orange and introduce the secondary colors throughout. The photography is meant to show energy, with students and faculty interacting.

Although there is plenty of design work ahead with reviewing and revising as well as design extensions, we’re thrilled to be at such a key time in the process!

Please join us for a web design presentation for faculty and staff on Tuesday, April 15 at 10:00am in Graves Hall Winants Auditorium. Refreshments will be served!

Accessibility and Compliance

We recently received a question about if and how we were incorporating accessibility into the new site. We’re happy to share that accessibility is a big part of this redesign. We are working to have all of the new design templates W3C accessibility compliant. In addition, we are investing in new back-end tools (through our CMS, OU Campus) that will allow us to validate web pages for Section 508, WCAG, Stanca Act, & BITV to ensure accessible pages to all site visitors.

Our web design partner, Mighty, also will validate all of our code for W3C compliance and they develop using the latest standards. They also keep in mind the structure of the HTML and consider how devices, like screen readers, will use the site.

Website Design Concepts

The time has finally come! We are getting our first look at website design concepts from Mighty.

Keeping in mind that we seek to offer an excellent, interactive web experience for our identified audiences (of which prospective and current students are our most extensive visitors), we chose to explore web designs at three levels: conservative, modern, and aggressive. We requested these concepts with these descriptors:

Conservative: doesn’t divert greatly from 2011 design but improves upon it in notable areas, feels more like a typical college web site.
Modern: continues to reflect higher education design, but diverts more greatly from 2011 concepts.
Aggressive: pushes the boundaries of conventional higher education design, differentiates the hope.edu experience and stands out among college designs and within the greater web design community.

We are so excited with the concepts and we are working diligently to gain additional feedback and choose which design direction we are ready to head in.

We will be presenting the designs to a group of students this week, and we would love to have any and all faculty and staff join us at the below times to see and update on the design progress:

  • Faculty: Tuesday, April 8th at 11am, Haworth Center Transmatic Gentex Room
  • Staff: Tuesday, April15th at 10am, Graves Hall Winants Auditorium

We’re excited to show off the  design concepts – and this major step puts us that much closer to the larger goal of launching a brand new hope.edu!

Welcome to Jennifer Fellinger, Vice President for Public Affairs and Marketing

We would like to extend a warm and enthusiastic welcome to Jennifer Fellinger, who has been appointed to the newly created position of vice president for public affairs and marketing at Hope College.

She comes to Hope with a variety of experiences in marketing and communications in education, serving most recently as vice president for marketing and communication at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash., for the past three years.  She will begin her time at Hope in early July.

Join us in welcoming Jennifer to the Hope community!

Read the full announcement »

Guest Blog Post: Leo Herzog, CIT

Hello! My name is Leo Herzog, and I’m the new Project Coordinator for CIT at Hope. I’d like to detail for you two particular projects that I’ve worked closely with Hope’s Integrated Marketing Team to complete.

Hope’s Blog Network runs on the fantastic WordPress CMS. WordPress’ biggest strength is it’s flexibility through the use of plugins. Plugins allow WordPress blogs to gain additional functionality, such as social network capabilities, forums, calendars, e-commerce, galleries, and much more. This flexibility allowed us to solve two big problems on Hope’s web presence; Marketplace/Ride Exchange, and the Campus Ministries Podcast.

Marketplace & Ride Exchange

In the early 2000s, Hope College adopted a web publishing tool called eZpublish. Among other things, eZpublish was responsible for the Marketplace and Ride Exchange services for the internal campus community use. eZpublish allowed Public Relations and Campus Safety to easily approve posts submitted via an online form. Only staff, faculty, and students had access to these websites. It looked very similar to today’s Knowhope:

A screenshot of the old Hope College Ride Exchange, hosted on eZpublish

A screenshot of the old Hope College Ride Exchange, hosted on eZpublish

eZpublish was a simple CMS that matched the rest of the Dreamweaver styling used throughout hope.edu. The problem was, there was no upgrade path for us. When the server that eZpublish gets too out of date (and it was built in 2004!), then we’re out of luck! While eZpublish does have updates to their CMS, they would not upgrade properly with the way that our servers were built. Either we start from scratch building a new eZpublish server, or we find a new home for Marketplace and Ride Exchange. That was the job I was given.

Ride Exchange and Marketplace were two services that were very alike. Campus users submitted a “post”, which got approved by Public Relations or Campus Safety, and stayed on the website for a set amount of time, before being removed from the site automatically. WordPress would be perfect for that. It already had a “posts” feature, and with a couple of plugins and tweaks, the rest could be done without any coding. Integrated Marketing helped make an online Web Form via the Gravity Forms plugin, and find another plugin to automatically expire posts after 10 days. When the user fills out the form, it schedules a post to be approved and notifies the user via email that their post will be approved shortly. Luckily, we didn’t have lots of eZpublish Marketplace and Ride Exchange posts to move over, since they expired so quickly. After some testing, we were ready to go live!

A screenshot of the new Hope College Marketplace on blogs.hope.edu

A screenshot of the new Hope College Marketplace on blogs.hope.edu

Campus Ministries Podcast

For years, Hope College Campus Ministries has had a podcast where recorded Chapel and Gathering services get published. With every podcast, you need to create a feed xml. This is a file with code containing your episodes, descriptions, and more. The instructions given to Campus Ministries were to edit their code by hand. If any mistakes were made, iTunes would reject our podcast and make the episodes unavailable. WordPress has an xml feed generator built in, so using this was another natural choice.

Using another plugin specifically for podcasts, we created a new blog for the Campus Ministries Podcast. I had to move all over all of the existing posts, but once it was done, we had the first ever functional website for the Campus Ministries podcast! With this site, users can search for specific bible verses or preachers, share and link to episodes, and even listen to the podcast right on the website! It’s been a great tool for both Campus Ministries staff and our podcast listeners.

A sample page of a podcast episode on blogs.hope.edu/campus-ministries

A sample page of a podcast episode on blogs.hope.edu/campus-ministries

Thanks for taking the time to look at some of the projects we’ve been working on. Feel free to take a look at the new sites we have built and offer feedback. We’ve put a lot of work into these projects, but they’re only version 1.0. I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to shoot me an email.

Introducing UChat

In early February the Admissions Office launched a trial of UChat, a widget that brings real-time customer service to Hope’s Admissions website.

UChat widget

UChat on the Admissions home page

Visitors to our site log in using an email address or their Facebook or Google credentials. Once registered, they can ask general questions of our staff, or even direct their questions to a specific representative. Reps are able to respond to incoming questions in real time or, in the event that none of us are available, reply at a later date.

On average, we’re receiving between 4–8 questions each day, and we expect this number to grow as high school juniors begin researching colleges. Prospective students who contact us through UChat and who’ve not yet requested information from Hope will receive one email encouraging them to opt in for future contact. We’re excited to be using UChat as a recruitment tool.

In the future we will continue staffing UChat with additonal Admissions reps and current Hope students. UChat provides the opportunity to engage with our website visitors as they browse our website, and as a marketing tool, it allows us to be a “welcoming community” — one of Hope’s brand attributes — on the web.