The design of site captures the MSA brand as well as builds the MSA brand. Website is both a reflection of the school’s culture as well as a cultural producer for the school. In other words, the website must capture key facets of MSA as well as tell a story about MSA that crystallizes the school’s mission and vision.
WHAT IS THE NEW SITE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH?
Serve as the front door to Miller School of Albemarle.
Organize and consolidate essential resources for internal visitors (current students, faculty, and parents). Place these on “back porch” of site--easily accessible but not in a place that clutters a new visitor’s experience of “front door.”
Show visitors (as opposed to tell visitors) how the mission of MSA enhances program.
Narrate with images, videos, and internal navigation that pull visitor through site in an engaging and strategic manner.
Allow visitor to “get lost” in site but, at the same time, easily navigate at all times.
Focus primarily on external audience and capture for this audience the “feel” of MSA.
Highlight unique programs and stories of particular importance that make MSA stand out in the boarding school.
Inform internal and external audience of calendar items and events with attractive (non-Google) calendar design.
Update internal and external audiences by being a news source with strategically released and planned stories that capture the culture of MSA and accomplishments on the “Hill.”
Drive traffic to website using Instagram, Facebook, and mailings with this content. Always post items with thoughtfully chosen photographs that tell story and then lead visitors to full story on site.
Move this content into print magazines based on success on website.
Vary content strategically between athletics, arts, academics, community outreach, events, alumni stories, institutional advancement, and faculty & student highlights. Every story must be accompanied by high-quality images and thoughtfully written copy, which hooks back to Mission and Vision of school.
HOW DO WE ENGAGE EXTERNAL AUDIENCE?
Illustrate how the many facets of the MSA fit together to promote Mission of school.
Make prospective student feel welcome on the site--capture the warm feeling one experiences walking onto campus on the website. For most prospective students, the website is their first impression of MSA.
Provide visitors cohesive user experience, so they can quickly understand key points and stats about what makes MSA different.
HOW DO WE INVOLVE INTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS?
Strategize with individuals and departments on how best to execute a successful page for their program, department, objective, etc.
Utilize this information to build page that maintains brand of overall site while, at the same time, delivering desired outcome of stakeholder.
Ask for input and ideas but do not expect stakeholders to produce content.
KEY POINTS ABOUT LOOK AND FEEL OF SITE:
Essential that site expresses the look, feel, and tone of the MSA brand. Images, stats, videos, and style show visitor this.
Text is kept to a minimum as modern websites must engage visitor and maintain visitor’s engagement without asking visitor to read more than a few sentences.
Display on mobile devices is a key facet of design. Many visitors now access the web primarily through mobile devices, so the need to create an experience that translates seamlessly to mobile platforms is paramount.
Navigation blocks are used on internal pages for ease of readability across multiple devices. Key facts appear before click-through to give visitor an “appetizer” before moving deeper into site.
Mobile header navigation is clean and easy to use on mobile devices.
Links for internal audience conveniently moved to footer for quick access and minimum navigation.
WHAT HAS BEEN PRESERVED FROM OLD SITE?
Very little--the design process began without using current site as starting point.
New site was imagined and designed without attempting to recreate any element of old site.
IS THE NEW SITE COMPLETE?
No, and it never will be. A website must constantly be updated and kept fresh. The “shelf-life” of much content is limited. Additionally, the lifespan of the site itself is limited. Schools, programs, departments, and brands progress. The website must adapt and change as well.
New additions planned:
Individual page for each special program and unique course.
Attractive and simple school store to purchase branded MSA items.