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Case Study

College Admissions Needed Online Improvements

One of the country’s top research school’s Continuing Studies programs was utilizing an outdated and ineffective website with functionality issues that did not convey a modern image of the school for visitors. Working closely with the department’s development team and a third-party design group, Netrix developed a new public website that served up significantly enhanced functionality and an improved user experience, all with a more user-friendly design. The solution also included a new course management system cutting the number of pages to manage by more than fifty percent.

The Situation

The School of Continuing Studies was evolving and growing to serve an expanded student body comprised of professionals and adult learners seeking career advancement and change. The school’s website was an essential channel for introducing the program to an education-focused audience, and it needed to be optimized. 

By leveraging Netrix’s project management, consulting, and development expertise, alongside solid PHP and SQL server capabilities, Netrix integrated with the school’s development team and a third-party design firm to develop and meet specific design and programming goals within a ten-month target. Site owners would soon be enabled with the ability to easily edit content and manage courses, providing the school with a highly functional, efficient, and more appealing website for internal and external use.

The Challenges

The school’s outdated and ineffective website, based on Cold Fusion and a Microsoft Access database, made it challenging for internal and external users to find important information and documents including forms, contacts, and course information.    

The website and course management system had evolved over years of development from four custom sites servicing various audiences: undergrad, graduate, summer courses, and professional development. The different sites required separate code and data to be cobbled together with outdated technology that offered inadequate support and made the site difficult to manage technically.  

The piecemeal updates also provided a poor user experience that undermined the school’s brand and image. Technology changes were expensive and cumbersome, and it was time-consuming to change classes and schedules. Content updates had to be made manually via code across all the site nodes, which led to inconsistency and inefficiency.

The Solution

Acting as the project lead, Netrix redesigned and rewrote the school’s course management system while the web design firm conducted interviews and began its design work. Netrix then worked closely with the designers to implement their insights into the content management system for the user-facing website. Once the design firm’s work was complete, Netrix spent three months coding the website in Cascade CMS for optimal functionality and ease of use for updates.

Managing the collaboration between Netrix, the school’s development team, and the third-party design firm, Netrix and the design team replaced the entire website with a new design, new more concise and targeted content, more social interaction, and better organization to optimize visitor experience and adoption. 

Transparency and collaboration are at the center of all Netrix projects. Working closely with the school’s stakeholders and the third-party design firm, Netrix led daily stand-ups with primary stakeholders, twice-weekly calls with the university’s marketing and IT teams, and weekly check-ins with the design firm. The outcome was a smooth, disruption-free implementation with zero downtime.

The new website and content management system delivered more intuitive navigation, simplified maintenance, and the ability to make ongoing updates and other changes easily. The easy-to-use content management system enabled marketing and individual program leaders to enter and revise their specific content, eliminating the need to involve IT to make revisions.  

A significantly reduced number of pages made site management easier and more economical. And with increased visual appeal and enhanced usability, the website became a strong sales and marketing tool for the university. By developing a website that better represented the school, administrators could better focus on other marketing efforts to identify and inform prospective students and increase enrollment.

Key Results

Pains

  • Outdated website design and navigation poorly communicated program offerings, school information, and brand to visitors.
  • The marketing team and course content owners could not update site content without engaging the IT team.
  • The course management system needed to be completely re-architected and aligned with the web platform.

Gains

  • The new course management system cut the number of pages to manage by more than 50% to reduce ongoing maintenance and improve the visitor experience.
  • Moving to PHP and SQL Server across the site provided a common framework and features so site owners could manage content and files themselves on demand.
  • User experience was enhanced through improved design, information architecture, search, and social interaction.

Our Approach

Netrix incorporates agile development best practices into our application development operations and prioritizes the evolution of your development teams by introducing market-leading best practices. Whether modernizing the applications you have in place today or developing new custom solutions for your unique business challenges, our team provides the experience and resources necessary to gain new functionality and efficiencies.

Technical Expertise

Our Microsoft-certified engineers develop software applications using the most modern technologies, ensuring that your application is usable and maintainable in the future. Our primary technical expertise includes:

Microsoft Stack

  • .NET development, MVC, MVP, MVVM

Modern Web Application Development

  • HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery, Angular JS, Knockout, Single Page Applications

Database Architecture

  • SQL, MySQL, noSQL

Azure Migration and Development Services

  • App Service, Web Roles, Worker Roles, Table Storage, Blob Storage, Queues, and Service Bus
  • Cloud-Based Architecture

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