iFactory holds town hall for ongoing site redesign

Category:  News
Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 at 11:36 PM

The Edinboro University Marketing and Communications Department announced in late November 2019 that the university website would be under construction and redesign, with a new look expected by Fall 2020.

According to Angela Burrows, EU Vice President for Marketing and Communications, the project, which has a price tag of $351,000, was taken on by the university in order to: 1.) update the website, which hasn’t seen a major redesign since 2014, and 2.) draw in prospective students.

On Tuesday, iFactory, the design company handling Edinboro.edu, held a town hall meeting in Pogue Multipurpose Room from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in order to update the campus community on the progress of the redesign.

Pete Gaioni, vice president of account services and strategy at iFactory, flew in from Boston where the firm is located, and addressed the gathered faculty, staff and students, fielding questions throughout the presentation. He began with a critique of the current website, pointing out problem areas and saying, “It’s not bad. But there is a lot of room for improvement.”

He began the formal presentation by saying, “Think about the website as a promotion tool — telling people why they should come here. The website will not make people come here, that’s what the admissions team is for. Think about the website like getting someone’s number. You still have to call in order to set up a date.”

This talk came after representative focus groups — consisting of students, faculty and staff — met with iFactory last fall in order to voice their concerns and vision. An online survey was also distributed at that time. 

According to Gaioni, user testing has already taken place on a draft of the website. However, he noted that it usually takes 12-18 months from the beginning to the end of the process for a higher education website to be ready to launch.

There was some back-and-forth in the meeting between Burrows and Gaioni regarding this deadline. “You guys (Edinboro) had initially come to us with a pretty aggressive timeline, that to be honest, and we’ve talked about it, I don’t think is realistic. I think you guys need to rethink that, and I think that 12-18 months is going to be more in line with what we’ve seen across the nation,” Gaioni explained.

At this point Burrows cut in, clarifying that the deadline is 12 months from the date which they started.

“We are still going to shoot high. The launch is kind of hard to predict,” Gaioni continued. “The goal is 12-18 months from when you began. That’s realistic...I think that 12 months, 14 even, with the size of your staff, how much content you have — and to be honest, you’re shooting pretty high — this is a major overhaul. It’s not a modest redesign. It’s pretty big, [and] we’re making it from scratch. I think its good, it’s the right thing to do; you’re spending so much money and you want to get it right. So don’t short change yourself trying to launch early when you’re not ready to.”

Gaioni also emphasized that the new Edinboro.edu website will not necessarily be for current students. “This website is not for current students, that’s what the portals are for. In our review of the previous website, we noticed that it was trying to be everything for everyone and that’s not what this website should be about.”

According to him, points that the new website will work to hit are: what sets Edinboro apart from other similar schools, mobile friendliness, and making the language more accessible.

“It’s common for higher education websites to be heavy on verbiage, but in a digital age it’s all about videos, sounds and images that will capture a prospective student’s attention for even a second longer.”

As of publication, the tentative date for the release of the new website is Fall 2020.

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