The University of Tampa
The University of Tampa (www.utampa.edu), located in the heart of downtown Tampa, is a comprehensive, independent university that delivers challenging and high quality educational experiences to a diverse group of learners. It is the school of choice for 5,300 students from 50 states and U.S. territories and almost 100 countries.
Colleges and universities place heavy emphasis on ensuring that each visitor has a streamlined and valuable experience when visiting the institution’s website. Establishing the best Web presence with consistent branding, simple navigation, and always current information helps to optimize communication with constituents and enhance student recruitment and retention.
Over time, The University of Tampa’s Web presence had developed many sites that did not present a cohesive ‘look and feel’. Design, navigation, and branding were incongruent across sites and content was habitually stale and hard to find. Workflow complexities had also resulted in widespread user frustration and failure to adequately route content updates for review and approval.
To boost the site’s role as a primary communications and recruiting vehicle, The University of Tampa revamped its Web strategy. The project involved two main components: a site redesign and implementation of a new Web content management solution (WCMS).
The University of Tampa’s in-house Web designer created and implemented the site’s new user-centric design. CommonSpot™ by PaperThin, Inc. was chosen as the WCMS to power the site. According to Grant Donaldson, director of public information and publications, “After diligent evaluation of more than a dozen products we chose CommonSpot as our solution because its feature set most closely met our requirements. It also provided the most flexibility and best value for the price.”
Simple Authoring Tools & Flexible Workflow Delivers Streamlined Content Management
The University of Tampa now maintains its website with a solution that can be easily extended and leveraged by users with various skills campus-wide. CommonSpot’s intuitive user interface components, role-based menus, and interactive wizards guide content contributors through the process of creating and updating content. And, flexible revision and approval processes help to ensure that high quality content is maintained.
Greater Brand Consistency
Greater site-wide brand consistency is maintained with CommonSpot’s flexible, integrated template framework. All templates are created and administered by the university’s site designer and stored within a template gallery. Templates vary from free-form to rigid allowing for maximum control over what content contributors can edit on a page. Overall site design is managed within a single HTML template that shares two separate design schemes – one for the home page and the other for all internal pages. This template serves as the foundation for subsequent templates and helps enforce a unified design across the site.
Streamlined Navigation & Enhanced Search Capabilities
The new site provides improved access to information through streamlined navigation, enhanced search capabilities, and an impressive range of new features.
Visitors can find information via a well-defined, dual organization scheme and intuitive navigation. The organization scheme provides more focused, targeted content arranged by audience and topic. Additionally, a navigational sidebar, similar to the Yahoo! Style directory structure provides useful menu links to many interior pages along with hint or trigger words about their content. The site also offers dynamic navigational breadcrumb links that show visitors the path they have taken while browsing content.
A new interactive Faculty & Staff Directory with advanced search capabilities was added to enable visitors to search for contact information alphabetically and by staff, faculty, department, and name. Built using several of CommonSpot’s out-of-the-box features, the application allows content contributors to add, manage, and delete directory records via an intuitive, forms-based interface. The form data is instantly processed and populated within the directory.
Powerful Content Reuse
The University also took advantage of CommonSpot’s ability to customize how content is captured, displayed, and reused to build robust News and Events sections. News and events exposure is maximized as content is displayed in many areas of the site. For example, a list of the three most recent events is presented on the home page, an index of all events is provided on the main events listing page, and event detail pages offer complete detailed information about a single event. An events calendar module was also developed, and provides a month at a glance view of campus events.
Developers leveraged CommonSpot’s ability to create custom forms to aid content contributors in the submission of event data. The event form contains several fields for collecting data such as title, date, time, location, and price. Content contributors can categorize events by subject area (i.e. academics, alumni, athletics) and location in the site (i.e. home page, main events listing page, calendar) providing the ability to easily target content. For example, News and Events tabs appear on many interior pages of the site. The content contained within the tabs is specific to the subject area (i.e. academics, alumni, etc.) so that only relevant information is featured. The ability to categorize events also provides advanced search options. For example, a ‘Restrict to Category’ function located on the main events page enables visitors to filter and search for events based on interest.
Today, University of Tampa’s website offers intuitive navigation and a host of new features that make it easy to find information in a more streamlined and interactive manner. And, managing the site and its content is now much easier. A team of 25 contributors, including faculty, staff, and students maintain content for their respective departments, freeing designers and developers from content maintenance. Donaldson further adds, “CommonSpot has been a major catalyst in helping us to achieve our strategic online goals and for reinforcing the site’s role as a primary communications and recruiting vehicle. Our site design is consistent and contributors are now empowered with easy to use tools for managing content and ensuring that it’s up-to-date.”