Saint Vincent College is more than just a university. It is a community shaped by the values of Benedictine life, which are spread further by the monks who have lived regularly on campus for over a century. The school needed a website that promoted these values and marketed itself as a welcoming and inclusive institution for all students. They turned to the higher ed web design team at KDG for help.
A drop-down menu on the website shares the history of the Benedictine tradition and introduces the monks who call campus home, giving users a friendly welcome to the unique and hospitable atmosphere on campus.
A customized “Explore Your Interests” page designed specifically for SVC gives prospects the opportunity to check off interests and see which programs of study closely match what they most enjoy.
With the new Google Material design, interaction with the site was made easier thanks to an Android-like framework that’s already ingrained into so many users’ minds.
By reducing the old website’s sitemap by hundreds of pages, not only was the time it takes to perform updates and maintenance cut in half, but navigation and usability were both facilitated.
An integrated social media presence with the website allows for easy social sharing by students, faculty, and staff over Twitter and Instagram.
Photographs of the campus and students taken by Saint Vincent College’s Digital Media Specialist Alex Byers are incorporated into the site’s design for a vivid portrayal of campus life and Benedictine spirit.
KDG developed and designed a website that not only increased usability, but also increased the focus on the Benedictine values of hospitality, community, and respect so that all students, regardless of their backgrounds, would feel welcome on campus. From a familiar framework to a customized webpage that gives users control over their interests and programs, KDG helped create a site that reflects the school’s cordial, warm, and inclusive atmosphere.
KDG’s biggest goal in taking on the project was using the site as a means of marketing the campus’s inclusive and welcoming environment. The school is one of only a handful of colleges in the country to have monks studying, living, and worshipping at an on-campus monastery and archabbey. The web team wanted to highlight this unique environment and its strong values.
The first thing designers did was to include an easily accessible drop-down window explaining the school’s Benedictine tradition.
“The Benedictine call-out, linked from our tagline ‘Quality Education in the Benedictine Tradition,’ offers a brief overview, linked to a more in-depth description of how Benedictine tradition is expressed in campus living, emphasizing the values of hospitality, community, and prayer,” explains Suzanne English, Vice President of Admission, Marketing, and Communications at Saint Vincent College. “The call-out was the KDG team’s suggestion of a way to incorporate an explanation of the meaning of Benedictine values at a high level, and we appreciate that.”
Designers at KDG also wanted to create a site that would be familiar to users, enhancing the overall comfort they would have while visiting it. This required improving the website by cutting hundreds of unnecessary webpages from the sitemap. The new Material framework from Google was also used for the site and shares features, styles, and interactions similar to those on Android apps. This made interacting with the site easier, as its most basic functions are already ingrained in users’ minds.
The website also helps forge a community by giving users control over several features, such as Twitter posts and Instagram photos. However, visitors have the most control with the new “Explore Your Interests” page. As they choose their unique interests, a list of majors and minors grows before their eyes, allowing them to see just how much SVC can offer. It’s an element of the site that English says pleases her most.
“This was a desired feature for the new site,” she said. “I love its implementation, which I credit to great collaboration between our Director of Web Services, Cindy Hoffman, and the KDG team.”
The website underwent extensive usability testing and earned some of the best feedback KDG has ever received. Users were shown webpages from some of SVC’s competing colleges and were asked to compare them to the new and improved SVC webpages. Nearly every single time, users chose KDG’s design, proving that the site was just as inviting as the college it markets.