The Digital Communications teams have been hard at work in the first half of 2019. Not only did this include an extensive accessibility project, but also working toward client requests for wider templates with bigger and more impactful text and images. Widening of templates is a major change that completes many months of navigation and accessibility enhancements culminating in this design update tentatively scheduled for go-live Aug. 20.
Website analytics show 13 percent of users have screens of 1,920 pixels wide, and nearly one in four visitors to the site are using screens larger than 1,400 pixels. Another one in three users are using screens 400 pixels or smaller - our mobile phone visitors.
Nearly half fit somewhere in between that. This means designing for all screen types from mobile to tablet and small laptops to desktop or wide screens remains a primary focus of the web teams moving forward on Digital Communications initiatives.
Completed Strategic Projects
In addition to major incremental design changes, the digital teams also facilitated projects in the following areas:
Updated Academic Advising Website
To compliment the Completion Imperative Initiative, and using feedback from advisors and students, the Academic Advising site was enhanced. This involved not only feedback that students were having difficulties with the table of phone numbers by college but also that most that come to this page are looking to explore changing a major. These items were prioritized in the project.
New STEM Center Site and Communications Consulting
Academic Affairs, in partnership with the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Information Science and Technology led the work on content for new STEM Trail Center. The digital teams facilitated the work of template, access, support and communications consulting for standing up the new center for Director Dr. Christine Cutucache and her team of community chairs.
Enterprise Social Media Expansion Using Hootsuite
The UNO campus has hundreds of social media accounts tied to departments, colleges or administrative units. In the spring, University Communications piloted a tool called Hootsuite for use to help collaborate, schedule and monitor social media platforms together, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn primarily. Training took place during the semester and full rollout is taking place this summer with select partners who expressed interest through MavComm.
Mobile App and Campus Visit Integration
The Campus Visit team had a mobile app specifically for visits, a self-guided tour through campus using audio, photos and other interactive features. During the spring semester, the digital communications teams and campus visits collaborated to leverage the UNOmaha App to incorporate a campus tour and present a streamlined approach from prospective to orientation to current student.
More promotions and tactics leading into Durango Days and Homecoming are planned for fall 2019. Start completing your Maverick Moments if you haven't yet. You can download the app here like nearly 9,000 other Mavericks already have.
What’s in progress currently?
Web Hosting for Professors (Reclaim Hosting)
Faculty have been asking for some kind of web hosting service since the end of the web conversion project. In collaboration with Academic Affairs, ITS Digital Learning and University Communications, teams have identified a solution that proposes faculty-managed content through a managed hosting provider called Reclaim Hosting. Roll-out of the new program is in process and it’s expected to announce dates for a pilot soon. Faculty Senate is monitoring the roll-out and ensure it is meeting faculty needs. Read more on domains and web hosting options under Digital Communications Governance.
Centers and Departments Homepages
After updating the main UNOmaha.edu home page and college homepages (ie: College of Education), we heard loud and clear that departments and centers wanted updates, too. Along with some accessibility issues with the carousels on most of those pages, a more vibrant and mobile-first concept is being worked on throughout July and August.
Admissions CRM Integrations (Salesforce and Pardot)
Much of the beginning phases for Salesforce and Pardot were foundational in nature in setting up email and print campaigns. Those enhancements continue, but integrations with the website are being looked at including cookie tracking to help prospective students and parents receive targeted campaigns based on their interest or completion of tasks on the website. Text-based communications and other tactics are also being explored.
Majors and Programs 2.0
One of UNOmaha.edu’s most critical pages is Majors and Programs. Prospective students visit this page in one of their first tasks on the website when they visit. Call to actions to the RFI (Request for Information) as well as other programs snapshot info and design changes will be made to help with usability and ease of requesting information and starting applications.
Wider Templates and Move of Left Sidebars
As noted above, a major change to the width of columns and where the sidebars are located for templates is being worked on. This is the final piece of the ongoing navigation and accessibility design changes involved a widening of the footer and templates as well as a flip of the left sidebar to right. This will enhance the experience, especially for desktop users, and provide better accessibility and readability. Tentative go-live is Aug. 20th.
Brand and Digital Communications updates
Annual updates to the Digital Communications services pages, guides and the over-arching UNO Brand Guide are in motion. Updated information on the navigation, social media branding as well as other tools and resources will be posted over the summer.
With the closure of the Center for Urban Sustainability and a search for a new sustainability coordinator at UNO, the web teams are collaborating with campus partners for a refresh of the sustainability hub. The main page will be updated with links to a new directory of faculty who have ties with sustainability as well as other content updates and more.
Digital Communications Transition
Finally, the team is working on transition plans as Director of Digital Communications, Jason Buzzell, will enter a new role in University of Nebraska Information Technology Services focused on IT Accessibility and acting as a liaison to UNO Academic Affairs faculty platforms. Executive Director Makayla McMorris, along with University Communications leadership, and the digital communications team of Sophie Ibrahimi and Jen McCahill will work on long-term plans. The team and processes remain governed by the Digital Communications Executive process and short-term day-to-day work will proceed as normal. Future updates will be provided at Maverick Communications gatherings.
Resources and More Documentation
A full list of projects and phases, as well as the Digital Communications process and governance model are located on the University Communications Website.
As a reminder, the Digital Communications governance, which includes channels such as the website, social media, digital analytics, digital and monument signage, email newsletters, short URLs, live chat, mobile apps and guidance on taking payment online is governed by a cross-campus committee with representatives from both academic and administrative units at UNO.
Members of the Executive Committee
- Sacha Kopp, Senior Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs (Chair)
- Dan Shipp, Vice Chancellor, Student Success
- Doug Ewald, Vice Chancellor for Business, Finance and Business Development
- Deborah Smith-Howell, Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Dean of Graduate Studies
- Bret Blackman, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology Services
- Makayla McMorris, Executive Director, University Communications
- Faculty Senate President
- Staff Advisory Council President
- Student Government President