increase in traffic to College of Humanities and Fine Arts site
UMass needed a scalable content model to suit various organizations, schools, and units.
The University’s decentralized structure led to brand consistency and UX challenges.
Drupal, Acquia Site Factory
Metrics show that the revamped website improved UMass Amherst’s ability to reach its audience. For example, since the site launch, traffic to the College of Humanities and Fine Arts site more than doubled — an increase of 115% to over 11,000 users — over the same period last year. The traffic increase also benefited subsidiary sites within the college, with traffic to the Architecture and Theater program sites each increasing by 10%.
Located in western Massachusetts, UMass Amherst is the flagship campus of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. UMass Amherst is a top-ranked, nationally recognized teaching and research institution with a current enrollment of about 28,500 students.
UMass wanted to create a content model that would suit large academic organizations (like the 15-department College of Natural Sciences) and scale to fit smaller schools with a singular focus (like Nursing), while also accommodating non-academic organizations like Human Resources. Above all, UMass needed its websites to support its goal of increasing student enrollment.
UMass has a very decentralized structure with, in some cases, very strong schools, colleges, and units and a range of technical and editorial skills. But, the University suffered from inconsistent brand implementation and UX across different sites — and had limited digital policies and governance to guide them.
Additionally, there needed to be more consistency in the University's web hosting and CMS systems. Many of the sites were self-hosted, causing security and maintenance headaches. And some schools and colleges had the resources to hire external agencies, but many did not. However, the University's marketing and communications department was expected to serve every school, college, and unit.
Overall, the University wanted to increase its brand consistency, centralize hosting, provide better security, improve ease of maintenance, and decrease the reliance on one-off bespoke websites for every school, college, and unit.
Working with Lullabot, the teams conducted more than 30 interviews with stakeholders from schools and colleges, admissions, marketing, IT, and more. Building on existing content audits and data models, the team created a plan that prioritized prospective students and encouraged them to take action by applying, scheduling a tour, or learning more.
UMass has website teams of various sizes and levels of technical editorial skills. To ensure a smooth transition to the new centralized platform, Lullabot created training resources that bring editors up to speed on managing and creating content. Additionally, UMass developed a governance toolkit to give the University a foundation for establishing roles and responsibilities and maintaining standards. Each team takes accountability for its adherence to content guidelines and best practices.
Metrics show that the revamped website improved UMass’ ability to reach its audience. For example, since the site launch, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts site’s traffic more than doubled — an increase of 115% to over 11,000 users — over the same period last year. The traffic increase also benefited subsidiary sites within the college, with traffic to the Architecture and Theater program sites each increasing by 10%.