Re:Design Blog

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Web Redesign Project

Web Redesign RFP

Campus sidewalk and building in late summer

A web redesign Request for Proposal (RFP) provides detailed information about the goals and objectives for our project. It’s a document that we can share with prospective vendors who we want to partner with on the redesign and redevelopment of our website.

To get to the next iteration of, we will be starting from a blank slate—completely new design, new user experience and information architecture, new content strategy, new content written on brand, new content management system (CMS) for managing content, new technology and hosting platform, etc.

I have included below our project goals and requirements for the new website as is detailed in the RFP. Please refer to the Web Redesign RFP (PDF) for complete details.

Please note: the Web Redesign RFP was shared for review and input with LR senior leadership and two strategic planning committees, the Improved Public Web Presence Committee and the LR Portal/Intranet Committee.

Redesign Project Goals

The Lenoir-Rhyne website is a key element in the university’s marketing and communications efforts and is an important vehicle for delivering information to external and internal audiences and key stakeholders. It’s a vital recruitment, fundraising, and storytelling platform for Lenoir-Rhyne.

The goals of the redesign project include:

  • A site that showcases Lenoir-Rhyne’s brand strengths, qualities and values.
  • A site that targets prospective and current undergraduate and graduate students and their families without sacrificing the needs of secondary audiences, including current students, alumni, current and prospective faculty and staff members, the media and general public.
  • An information architecture that organizes content in an efficient and logical manner for primary target audiences, while preserving deeper content structures to meet secondary audience needs.
  • A site with a more modular, flexible visual design that is fully functional and responsive in design for display across many screen sizes and devices.
  • A technology platform that is robust and mobile-first in focus, yet flexible enough to continue to grow and evolve with our web presence. Ideally, we hope to easily reskin the site over several years while retaining an underlying platform and architecture allowing for long-term evolution.
  • Assistance with the development of a content strategy, personas, and content framework for the site.
  • Evaluation of our current website governance and site management, site support, hosting, and recommendations to support our new website strategy.

Redesign Requirements

The redesigned website will do the following.

  • Focus on user experience.
  • Follow web standards (HTML5, CSS3).
  • Strictly adhere to web accessibility standards— WCAG 2.1 & WCAG 2.0 Level A & Level AA, Section 504, Section 508 (2017).
  • Display optimally on a range of screen sizes and devices (smartphones, tablets, desktop monitors). A mobile navigation for smaller screens and a desktop navigation for larger screens.
  • Be optimized (design, architecture, and hosting platform) for fast loading—particularly on mobile devices as measured by Google PageSpeed Insights (fast performance of 90 or better). Utilize approaches like a CDN, caching, minifying CSS and JavaScript, and “lazy loading” of page elements for optimized page load times. Our research suggests page load speed is crucial to perceived and actual site success and improved search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Render properly in widely used mobile and desktop browsers (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, IE, and Safari)
  • Incorporate SEO best practices to improve site visibility. This includes the ability to manually change meta information/tags on each individual webpage—Page Title, Meta Title, Meta Description, Meta Image, Page Crawl Frequency, ability to hide pages from public/internal search and sitemap (no index, no follow), clear page name/URL structure (pages URLs all lowercase using hyphen separators), and an automated XML Sitemap. Pages should be properly structured to use H1-H5 headers. Provide ability to include a robots.txt file for limiting search engines to some content.
  • All website content must be directly displayed as webpages and indexable by search engines, i.e., website content that opens in an overlay that is not directly accessible to website visitors through a URL or search engines should be avoided. Important pages that must be indexable by search engines include homepage, landing pages, secondary pages, campus calendar landing page, individual event pages, campus directory landing page, individual faculty directory/biography pages, majors and programs, course listings/descriptions, etc.
  • Offer content syndication and content sharing—COPE (create once and publish everywhere). Content that is duplicated in multiple places should be updatable and maintained in single location. For example, offering the same academic program content for a hidden digital advertising landing page as we do for the main academic program page—the content is updated in one place and published out to both pages. We should be able to do this at the page and section/component/widget level, while also having the ability to display some different elements on similar pages, e.g., the hidden landing page might have an RFI form, the public page might not.
  • Provide a modular or atomic design framework allowing for more flexibility in content design and delivery across site pages. Here is an example of modular design from Indiana University. In such design, the same content component (e.g., student testimonial, brand messages, news stories, content featurettes, videos, lists, events, etc.) can be published in multiple layouts on a page—across one column, two columns, four columns, or six columns. We change our focus in page design from whole pages into parts, making it possible for our website to combine content and design, but also allowing our CMS more control. This will allow us to build out pages in ways that make sense from a visual, administrative, and business perspective. A modular or atomic approach to design and populating content will offer us a more flexible and adaptable site that is nimble enough to address changing institutional and visitor needs.
  • Provide a pattern library that offers multiple options for content display, e.g., a blockquote might come with big bold text with a large background quotation, another might include an image, yet another with a vertical line. The pattern library would offer multiple button, list, image, video, accordion or tab styles, among others.
  • Integrate social media content/feeds from university accounts within the website whenever possible for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Provide the ability for website personalization either using a built-in or add-on personalization module/engine or utilizing a site-wide taxonomy. We are open to doing a phased approach and pushing personalization off to Phase 2 as long as Phase 1 site development doesn’t prevent later site personalization work. We are particularly interested in the idea of prospective students being able to create a “Custom Viewbook” from our website, similar to a product offered by Custom Viewbook –
  • Be optimized to share webpage content to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by employing separate Open Graph (OG) protocol and Twitter cards on every page to specify page title, descriptions, image, and video. It is preferred that all of these tags populate from the main meta fields, but allow us the ability for them to be individually edited.
  • Ability to easily add code to the <head>, beginning of <body> and end of </body> at the site level and at the individual page level. We often need to add or update tracking/retargeting/conversion pixels to our site and site administrators should be able to do this easily without requiring development support.
  • Include responsive, accessible, semantic data tables. Tables should automatically stack their layouts for mobile screen sizes. Various design options will be available to stripe alternate rows with darker color to increase contrast.
  • Ability to manage all 302 and 301 URL redirects through a single website redirect module or apache .htaccess file. This includes the ability to redirect documents to webpages or other documents.
  • Website multilingual support should be available via an add-on module.
  • Run all website pages and associated scripts, CSS, and assets under an SSL certificate (https://) for improved SEO and site security. All webpages should be run through a non-secure content scan like before launch. Have the ability to redirect automatically all http:// traffic to https://
  • Use non-proprietary programming and frameworks for interactive features.
  • Follow best practices for website development, which includes a code repository, dev or staging website and a production website.

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