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 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 When the server that eZpublish gets too out of date (and it was built in 2004!), then we’re out of luck!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
A screenshot of the new Hope College Marketplace on

These sites are now available here: Marketplace and Ride Exchange

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
A sample page of a podcast episode on

This site is now live here: Campus Ministries Podcast

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.

OmniUpdate User Training Conference

1900126_10152269883842071_336464325_nI had the privilege of attending the OmniUpdate User Training Conference this week in Anaheim, California. OmniUpdate, you’ll recall, is the company who makes our new Content Management System (CMS), OU Campus.

#OUTC14 was filled with presentations, sessions, topic tables and workshops specifically designed for OmniUpdate customers. It was great to get to know many of the other colleges and universities who use (and love) OU Campus.

Topics that were covered included

  • Information about the all new release of OU Campus version 10
  • Implementation
  • Analytics
  • College catalog’s on the web
  • Web governance
  • Responsive design
  • Writing for the web
  • Content and technical collaboration
  • Search engine optimization
  • OU’s development roadmap
  • End-user training workshops
  • Administrator training workshops

We’re really excited to bring this knowledge and these ideas to our work on the Hope website redesign project, where we’ll be working to implement OU Campus for our site this summer!

Project (on) schedule

Good news! We are right on track as far as schedule and budget with our web design work with Mighty. Here’s what our next few steps look like:

  • Now through early April: design concepts
  • April/May: design extensions
  • Mid-April through early June: front-end development

Also, Mighty reviewed the wireframes with OmniUpdate (our new CMS) and we are approved to move forward! Onward!

Web Advisory Group

Today we welcomed the first gathering of our newly formed Web Advisory Group! This team is an ad hoc group primarily responsible for reviewing information and plans pertaining to the Web, new initiatives and strategies, and suggestions for changes and improvements to Hope Websites. The Web Advisory Group is composed of a broad representation from all areas of campus and meets monthly and/or as needed.

The group will advise the Web Team on matters relating to functionality, site structure, navigation, design, and content. The group will also work to improve communication and cooperation among the various departments at Hope with web related responsibilities.

We’re excited to welcome this group to our website redesign effort!

Team members  include:
Sarah Baar, English
Scott Travis, Alumni & Parent Relations
Aaron Best, Biology
Rebecca Johnson, Communication
Pablo Peschiera, English/VWS
Ernesto Villarreal, Multicultural Education
Chris Bohle, Student Life
Theresa Bravata, Events & Conferences
Lindsey Engelsman, Athletics/Kineseology
Brianne Hagen, Libraries
Carol De Jong, Registrar
Sarah Gottschlich, Registrar
Alfredo Gonzales, International & Multicultural Education
Ryan McFall, Computer Science
Tom Bylmsa, CFO
Leo Herzog, CIT
Aaron Goodyke, Student
Joseph Carty, Student
Amy Van Dommelen, Student
Anne Brown, Student


Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 2.37.04 PMWe’re moving into the wireframing stage of the web project.

A website wireframe is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website. Wireframing helps clarify exactly what needs to be on the different page types or templates of our new site. This practice helps to connect the underlying site-map to the visual design of the site.

The wireframe shows the page layout or arrangement of the site’s content, including interface elements and navigation, and how they work together. Wireframes usually don’t include colors, graphics, or fonts since the main focus is functionality, behavior, and priority of content. In other words, it focuses on what a page does, not what it looks like.

Thanks for attending Meet the Personas Open House!

Thanks to those of you who attended our Meet the Personas Open House this week! It was great getting a chance to share these with our broader campus community.


What are our User Personas? Fifteen (15) fictional characters that have been created to help us better understand the experience of Hope College’s various audiences.

Learn more!

Meet the User Personas Open House

Please join us for our upcoming “Meet the User Personas Open House”.

Wednesday, January 29
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Martha Miller 1st Floor Rotunda
refreshments will be served!

Fifteen (15) fictional characters have been created to help us better understand the experience of Hope College’s various audiences. We would like to introduce these personas to you and hear your feedback! Please come and go as your schedule permits.

More information about User Personas & Scenarios.

New Brand Resource Request

We have recently re-worked our Brand Resource Request page to better serve you. Visit and click the Brand Resource Request link on the left. On this form you will find:
  • downloadable PowerPoint, memo and report templates
  • downloadable Hope College logos
  • email signature generator
  • order form for business cards, letterhead, envelopes, etc. 
  • samples of each item and more!

We hope that you will find this new page helpful as you continue to implement the brand and develop your messaging. Please let us know your thoughts!

Playing in the sandbox

As you’ll recall, we’ve previously selected OmniUpdate’s OU Campus as our new Content Management System (CMS) for the new to replace Dreamweaver/Drupal. Although we’re still a ways away from implementing our new CMS, we’ve been given the keys to a “sandbox” or test version of a website running OU.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 9.28.31 AM

It’s fun to actually test out some of the features and tools that we’ve been excited about for some time, and this allows us to give a “reality check” to the ideas that Mighty and us come up with related to content development and functionality. We look forward to the day when we get the chance to actually use our new CMS on a brand new!