CASE STUDY

New Jersey Institute of Technology

The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) sought to boost its name recognition and attract more high-quality applicants but, in order to do so, the university needed a major digital facelift. NJIT s site didn t reflect the quality of research and study going on at the school, and each college and program within the university had a web presence with its own structure, look, and navigation, leading to a hodgepodge of disconnected sections that didn t portray the polished image NJIT was looking to communicate.

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OUR CHALLENGE

To create a cohesive structure and elevate NJIT’s web presence

Devising a plan to tell the story of a wide range of programs

NJIT had ambitious goals for its new site. Beyond attracting smart and accomplished applicants, the university was also looking to market its graduates and the quality of its degrees to potential employers, create a better structure for its administrative sites, and build out online tools including a robust degree and major finder. In the meantime, each program and department had been responsible for building and managing its own online presence, making for a complicated ecosystem of microsites.

NJIT came to DOOR3 with this broad range of needs, desiring a streamlined site to drive prospective students to the most essential information, demonstrate the value of an NJIT degree, and ultimately, motivate site visitors to apply.

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OUR PROCESS

Charting the path to a more focused and dynamic content site

With a large group of stakeholders to please, DOOR3 prioritized the project around the university’s major goals. To understand the needs of the core users NJIT was looking to attract (i.e. prospective students and their families), we conducted usability testing and card-sorting exercises, as well as developed user personas. Our discovery showed each potential audience had very different navigational needs, so we needed to come up with a solution to satisfy each group and a way to house dynamic content.

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OUR SOLUTION

A flexible content system meeting diverse needs and encouraging immediate action

We built a menu to drive users to action

With hundreds of thousands of pages spread across hundreds of subdomains, the existing site was too cumbersome to map and the existing information architecture was complicated for even experienced users. To make it easy for prospective applicants to find introductory information on the surface level and for current students, faculty, and staff to locate more in-depth information, we organized everything into a topic-based navigation. We also integrated promotional callouts within the mega menu, enabling departments to support their goals and encouraging site visitors to take immediate action.

We designed flexible templates to accommodate a diverse site

NJIT’s new website required page templates to fit the needs of programs ranging from art and design to electrical engineering to financial aid. To accommodate the wide range of content, we broke the pages down into content “bricks” instead of having to wireframe thousands of pages. This allowed content creators to easily build pages suited to their needs while fitting the overall visual style. We mapped out the entire site with just over 50 bricks and 26 full pages, which were designed, built, and QAed efficiently, ensuring a quicker launch.

We created a major finder to help promote all NJIT has to offer

During our feature-based competitive analysis, we introduced the concept of a major and degree finder for prospective students. This tool would not only help users see what programs the university offers; it would also display what graduates could do with a degree from NJIT, helping prospective applicants answer questions like, “What do architects do all day?” and “Is that a good job for me?”

Besides the promotional content we proposed, our development team worked out the best technology for handling complexity while ensuring the site loaded quickly. We settled on Vue, a flexible JavaScript framework, and Elasticsearch, a modern feature-filled solution that offered ample documentation to help speed up development time. We were able to quickly build and test a prototype, then fleshed it out into a robust comparison tool.

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CONCLUSION

Designing a web presence worthy of a prestigious institution

NJIT came to us with a complicated problem and we presented a simple solution: a streamlined site organized around audience goals and the functionality most meaningful to the university’s users. Through a smart information architecture and efficient content bricks, we organized, designed, and developed a simpler content site that still offered all the dynamic capabilities NJIT’s diverse programs needed to tell their stories. We emphasized action through strategic CTAs and a goal-oriented mega menu. Once the site launched, we provided a prioritized strategic roadmap built from user research insights to continue growing the college’s web presence and build its reputation.