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An enterprise-level website that scores a touchdown — and goes for two

Boise State University first grabbed our attention when its football team used the Statue of Liberty play to beat Oklahoma in overtime in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. It was a gutsy, perfectly executed performance that reminded the entire country not to overlook the little guy. The game brought media attention and acclaim to Boise State, and the university realized that it needed a web presence worthy of its new standing.

Before

The existing site lacked consistency of identity, brand, and message; it also had different navigation systems, logos and colors, designs, plugins, and in some cases even ran different versions of WordPress

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After

The new theme is responsive and robust, with a clean, modern design

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Challenge

Boise State wanted a robust WordPress system that could serve as a master, controlled theme for the over 200 different WordPress sites under the university’s umbrella

The site would need to organize a host of crucial elements: a global navigation system, dynamic content feeds, a system for sending emergency notifications, multiple templates that could fit each site, and A-Z indexing to navigate between them. The site also needed to be Section 508 compliant. What’s more, Boise State wanted an online style guide to train faculty and students how to maintain the brand when adding content to the live site.

 

Discovery

At project start, Boise State had already decided on its main level navigation items and established the site’s content hierarchy. With that in place, we did a competitive analysis, working with Boise State to develop an internal list of “regional top three universities to beat.” After the competition and critical features were defined, we sorted through our collected data to create content maps and wireframes.

Design

During discovery, Boise State told us that they wanted a “clean and modern” website; we chose an approach that balanced its bold colors with a simple, readable design. Further, we tried to give the myriad primary user paths equal weight on the homepage while keeping the main navigation uncluttered. In the end, we designed five initial concepts ranging from conservative to sharply abstract and minimal; ultimately we landed somewhere in between.

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We also created several interior content and landing page templates to maintain design integrity and ease of use across the site. The templates are minimal and digestible, yet can still handle large amounts of content when necessary. Departments and colleges within the University each have their own landing pages, which allows them to showcase their own content, links, imagery, etc., while remaining on brand and maintaining a consistent user experience from page to page.

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Results

The new design now effectively serves Boise State University campus and community. Using a master theme, it gives administrators the ability to control the presentation of content on its 200 separate WordPress installations from one central login, ensuring consistent branding across the entire network of sites. Boise State can also decide how much of the data and design scheme gets transferred to the child sites from the master theme. Although each university department is still in control of its own site, each site is now aligned with the University’s brand guidelines and running on the same version of WordPress.

Acclimating Boise State staff to the new website was painless. Prior to launch, we sent our WordPress experts to Boise for a two-day training session on the content management system. We also created custom training videos for the internal staff that explained how to update complicated content. These training videos are available from the back-end of the CMS as a resource for new hires or as a refresher course for staff.

By the numbers

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"We were searching for a web vendor that offered enterprise-level expertise in WordPress and world-class design skills. We selected Westwerk because they are proven WordPress experts who understand how to translate brands into the online experience. This made Westwerk our top choice to redesign the Boise State website. Westwerk continues to impress me with their quality, level of service, and value"
Teri Williams, University Web Manager, Boise State University
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