New sites for departments, offices and programs

As we enter the summer months, we know many departments and offices on campus have told us they intend to spend this time working on their new websites. This is great news and we’re here to help and support you! We’d also like to congratulate the 20+ departments, offices and programs who have already launched their new sites throughout this past academic year. Here’s a full list:


A beautiful website for a beautiful campus

The web team has spent the past 1.5 days at HighEdWeb Michigan 2016, a regional conference that tackles the latest and greatest in higher ed website strategy, management, design, marketing and technology. There’s so much that’s worth sharing (and even more that’s going to help us shape and refine how we work at Hope) but I wanted to pass along one article in particular that provided an interesting perspective on the form and function — the beauty — of websites:

How to Care for Your Digital Campus” by Brian F. Hawkins

Brian presented at the conference, and I encourage anyone involved or interested in Hope’s website to read it. Here’s a bit to whet your appetite:

Much has been written since then about the importance of maintaining a beautiful campus, and successful institutions continue to make significant investments in campus architecture and green space. As we move to an era in which the campus extends beyond the traditional brick and mortar to the online and digital landscape, however, we must not repeat the mistakes of those 19th-century institutions. Colleges must invest in building digital campuses that are just as inspiring, vibrant, and functional as the stone arches, sculptures, and flowers that adorn our physical campuses.


If I were to plant a tree outside my office, our landscaping department would have fresh sod in its place by tomorrow morning (and my boss would be seriously evaluating my employment status). I cannot plant a tree at will, so why should I be allowed to clutter the digital landscape? It’s time we tend to our digital campus with the same professional care and planning that we devote to our physical campus.

Much of the article reinforces that our new content governance and web team structure is on the right track.

Read the whole thing.

Case Study from OmniUpdate

ouThe provider of our OU Campus CMS, OmniUpdate, recently featured Hope College in a new case study. Read about how we put together a plan, built a foundation for change using user personas, enhanced the user experience and are now fulfilling our vision for changing the way Hope College communicates online. OmniUpdate also previously produced a video testimonial about Hope College late last year.

By implementing OU Campus, the Hope College web team was able to focus more on the needs of their website visitors and less on resolving technical issues with their CMS. OU Campus’ open API and gadgets allowed the web team to further enhance the CMS by adding functionality on their own. Read more…

Social Media and Students

As an intern at the Public Affairs and Marketing office, a lot of my job is posting to Hope’s various social media accounts, such as Snapchat and Instagram. As silly as this might seem at first, I actually think it can be pretty influential when it comes to students engagement with the college.

For prospective students, looking at the social media accounts can be a good way to get a look at what “real” college life is like. The snapchat account especially, allows for a look into what a normal day at Hope College looks like. On any given day the account may feature updates on research presentations, campus wide events, student organizations, or even just the unpredictable Holland weather!

For current students, all the social media accounts allow for students to be continually aware of what’s going on around campus. The accounts can serve as a reminder for various campus happenings and give students the full scope of all the opportunities Hope offers. Snapchat especially also offers the unique chance for students to have more interaction with the college. The marketing department offers various different promotions and competitions for students to send in snaps with the possibility of being featured on Twitter or Instagram. This opens the door for a more lighthearted communication between the institution and its students, a door that previously hadn’t really existed!

Prospective or current student, the social media accounts allow the college to be less of a large company and more of an intimate community. It’s a pretty cool feeling to look on the campus wide instagram account and actually see a picture of someone you know, whether it be your housemate, classmate, or friend. The accounts remind us to fully engage in the unique and close community we have here at Hope whether you’re a current or prospective student.

Social media workgroup meets monthly

A new staff and faculty workgroup started meeting monthly this spring to talk about social media. This informal group meets every third Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Plaza conference room.

Please feel free to drop in and invite your friends and colleagues who might be interested. Typically there is no set agenda but rather informal conversation about social media trends, challenges and successes across campus. It has been a great opportunity to learn from each other!  Please join us.

Example of some topics discussed are:

  • Best methods for promoting campus events and news
  • Are we seeing results with young people?
  • What makes for an engaging post/tweet?
  • Graphics — How to format and what to include?
  • Tips on finding good content to share
  • Understanding tone
  • Connecting with alumni

Questions? Email

Scholarship Day of Giving is back!

Scholarship Day of Giving

Thank you for being a social media champion at Hope College! Your influence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram helps support the good work of everyone at Hope.

Scholarship Day of Giving is back on April 19, and the planning team needs your help spreading the word. Most of the excitement and buzz will be shared via social media and email — that’s where you come in! Your assistance in 2015 helped bring in more than 600 gifts and $100,000+ to support Hope Fund scholarships.

Please consider sharing a tweet or two and a Facebook or Instagram post leading up to, and throughout, the big day. Included below are graphics you may wish to share in your posts and tweets. Here are the details:

Scholarship Day of Giving is Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

    • 24 hours of giving to the Hope Fund
    • GOAL: 750 gifts to the Hope Fund
    • Activity will be tracked LIVE at
    • Official hashtag: #give2hope
    • Giving challenges and incentives will be offered throughout the day

Questions you might have should be forwarded to Sabina Otteman, director of the Hope Fund and Annual Giving.

Scholarship Day of Giving social media badge Scholarship Day of Giving social media graphic

Calendar Powered by Localist

Hope College was recently featured as a case study by Localist, the platform that powers our new master web calendar. We were also recently asked by colleagues at another institution why we chose Localist and for more information about how we implemented it. We were happy to share!

Note: this post is a bit more detailed and technical than our usual posts.

Why we chose it

We primarily chose Localist as our front end web calendar platform because it allowed us to have the most control over the general look and feel of our calendar, allowing us to match very closely the look and feel of our new site. We also chose it because it had the most user friendly features that promoted interactivity. Some features we really like:

  • automatic de-duplicating
  • “I’m Going” event check-ins
  • comments, reviews, photos
  • pending queue
  • automatic Google map
  • flexible tags
  • featured events
  • custom fields
  • bulk upload events
  • LDAP
  • responsive design
  • CSS override
  • exporting to iCal, RSS, Google Calendar
  • API access
  • Google Analytics
  • social media integration
  • place pages
  • groups

Back end, workflow, design

The design of the site was done by our web design partner, Mighty, to match the rest of our site. We were able to do a lot of customization of the look and feel using the tools provided by Localist. However, when we launched our calendar we had to do a lot of custom CSS and javascript overrides to get it to look and act exactly how we wanted it to. Since we launched, Localist has introduced a new Theme Editor, which makes this process much easier going forward. Of course, none of this is required (it’s very easy to implement their platform using the standard theme) but it was our goal for our end users to not know they were on a different platform when they came to the calendar (i.e. match the rest of our site).


When we initially chose Localist, one of the things we liked was that they would connect to EMS, our room reservation system on campus. When we began the process of making the connection we quickly learned two things:
1) The EMS API is very limited and did not include all of the information we wanted from our events (for example, it didn’t pull the event details/description field).
2) Access to the EMS API was not something that was currently included in our EMS package.

So, we decided to change routes and talented folks in our CIT department developed a feed from EMS that once a day publishes a CSV file with all new events from EMS. The feed includes info such as event name, dates, times, buildings, locations/room, sponsoring department, description, etc. They also added a new question in the room reservation section of EMS, “Display on Public Calendar?” and in order for something to show up in the feed, the submitting user in EMS has to select ‘Yes’ to that question.

Once the feed existed, we added it to the Feeds section in our Localist account, which adds each event into our Pending Queue in Localist. Everyday a member of our team reviews the Pending Queue in Localist to review the events there, clean them up, add photos, tags, descriptions, hashtags, ticket costs, and any other pertinent information before publishing the event live on the web.

Another thing we had to “clean up” before we started was our list of buildings in EMS. We wanted the buildings to match our list of buildings in Localist so when something came through the feed it assigned itself to our Buildings or “Places” in Localist. So there was some work we had to do to clean that data up to match.

Campus Communication

We’ve let the campus community know that they are welcome to contact us directly to let us know if they want anything added or changed to their event after the fact (more info, rescheduled date/time, custom photo, etc). Event changes do not get sent to us via EMS feed. However, CIT did create a “cancelled events” feed for us (outside of Localist, it’s an email alert) to let us know anytime an event gets cancelled in Localist. When we’re alerted of those, we check in Localist to see if the event exists and if so we remove it. The EMS to Localist feed is a one way street, so changes or cancellations in EMS have to be handled manually in Localist.

The submit via EMS process works for about 90-95% of our campus events. For our more major or off-campus events (Orientation, Homecoming, regional alumni events, etc) we work with those departments directly (via a sit down meeting or email) to create all of the events to their preference.

You can see how we communicate this to campus by visiting our department website and selecting the Events Calendar section.

We’ve been very pleased with the feedback we’ve heard on the new calendar and look forward to continuing to further develop it in new and exciting ways on our campus.