Been online lately? Well, then you know stkate.edu, the University’s website, is all brand new. With completely renovated navigation, fresh photography and content, and a fully mobile-responsive design, the new site offers an elegant and tech-forward “window” into life and learning at St. Catherine University.
“We’re really excited about our digital presence,” says Blanche (Bea) Abdallah, vice president for external relations. “Aside from being modern and streamlined, today’s website will help us better engage and attract prospective students at every degree level, allow current students access to information they need more quickly, and provide our alumnae and donors with more dynamic ways to stay connected to their University.”
The redesign, which launched on March 11, was no easy feat. St. Kate’s marketing and communications team — working alongside external partners and an internal advisory group — faced down an outdated and oversized existing website, and an undersized pocketbook. “We started with 5,500 pages of material, which was not only unmanageable, but was actually hurting our visibility,” says Abdallah. “Our goal was to reduce total page count to around 1,000, liven up the content to boost interest through search optimization, and do the whole thing within existing budget parameters.”
And do it they did. After 15 months, stkate.edu debuted on budget with about 1,300 pages, opening to nearly immediate increased visibility and external traffic.
“Before the launch, we received approximately 40 inquiries per week on our graduate programs,” notes Greg Steenson, associate dean for admissions and market development. “Post-launch, with a few minor adjustments, we’re seeing nearly 60 per week. It shows great progress for us.”
Another sign of progress? St. Kate’s Google search position. In the past, if you typed “Masters in Nursing,” St. Catherine University didn’t appear until the bottom of page three (research shows very few people look beyond page one), making academic programs nearly invisible to prospective applicants. Today, that same term places St. Kate’s at number four on page one. “Something as simple as changing a few words on a page can dramatically impact total site visits and inquiries,” adds Steenson.
Early successes aside, much work remains. “Students live online every day,” says Abdallah. “In order to compete and stay well-connected, our team must refresh information and imagery, as well as upgrade technologies. And we need to do it daily.”
And do it they will.