Category Archives: marketing
I thought I should give a recap of our departmental website redesign project. Many of you have responsibility for a website or at least content on a website. For some this is natural but for many it is difficult to maintain. If like my job, you are responsible for a website that is the portal to services needed by your constituents then it needs to be an effective site for navigating to the desired answer. Our IT website was basically created from a general university design back when we implemented a new CMS solution. It was not terrible but it was not thought out either with respect to usability. But who has the time or interest to tackle such a problem. Inevitably I did have to tackle this, so at the beginning of the year I posed the question to our CIO listserv if anyone could suggest good Higher Education IT Websites. Got some good feedback and gravitated to the IT website of the University of Chicago. I like their quick access icons and organization based on function rather then role.
We borrowed some of the design features from the UC site and began working with our Marketing department to design a new IT website theme. We use Cascade Server from Hannon Hill so we needed to translate our ideas and let them give us a prototype. With a basic design and goals for the various navigation strategies we involved many of our IT staff in translating our current website to the new design. Of course we came up with some new pages but mostly it was a redefinition of the purpose and style for conveying the same information. Of course we had some superstars who really helped us organize it. All this leads to a pilot site that you try to get everyone to update and validate.But at some point you have to say launch and once you get close it is probably better to launch. Mistakes on the production website that your department has taken project ownership of is a good motivator to make sure it is ready for the launch. I know that was a very general recap of a process many go through but I can say that it appears our site is a great improvement over the past. We offer quick tabs (icons) for the most requested services. We have functional service areas and then we keep a running sidebar menu for a little of both.
BTW – checkout our video about IT Services on the Home Page of our Website
If you have followed my blog or George Fox University you know about our laptop program where in recent years we have given out an Apple MacBook to all incoming freshman. The purpose for the program was for marketing, standardization and convenience. The issue for us is the changing landscape of educational computing and the value dilution of a laptop for a traditional undergraduate. George Fox University happens to find itself at the crossroads for both of these issues.
We had been hoping that the iPad would be the perfect transition technology, but I address some of the shortcomings of the iPad that prevented us from offering the iPad in place of the MacBook next year. However, in looking for a way to offer an option to the MacBook we have decided to offer the iPad as an alternative choice. I think this will be a very interesting opportunity that will first be marked by the percentage who select the iPad and second by the success we find in utilizing and supporting it. Now we will make sure the iPad offering is as complete as possible and we won’t be able to give any guarantees that the iPad equally replaces the MacBook. In fact the smarter value choice would be for the MacBook, but what will the students choose?
There will be many reasons why students may choose an iPad and it will typically break down into those who already have their laptop of choice or those who actually believe that the iPad is the more functional computing device for them to be a successful student. How the numbers work out will be interesting, but no matter what I think we will see many iPads, iPhones and iTouches throughout the undergraduate population. We will be deliberate in tying to integrate these mobile devices into our Teaching & Learning strategies, but in most cases we will just be observing whether the iPad satisfies the technology needs for undergraduate higher education. Of course the rapid availability and our adoption of E-Textbooks will strongly influence the value of the iPad. Stay tuned.
This post is to applaud Apple’s marketing strategy. They have truly parlayed the art of competitive silence into the most effect marketing strategy a company could ever hope for. The iPhone set the stage for this and carrier agreements somewhat justifies it. Pretending that the silence is for strategic protection is brilliant. I love the Apple employees who do actually buy into this completely, kind of an oath of operation. But the result is an immense amount of free advertising based on anticipation. Who had the greatest impact at the CES last week? The company that was not even there. Aren’t we all anxious about what Apple might announce on Jan. 26th or 27th?