BarkleyREI conducted remote discovery sessions with LR stakeholders August 11-28, 2020, to learn more about the university, analyze the existing LR web presence, understand the wants and needs of users and to uncover key insights that will inform the strategic direction for the redesigned website.
BarkleyREI met with more than 70 faculty, staff and students from across LR’s three campus locations: Hickory, Asheville and Columbia.
- Academic Affairs
- Admission (undergraduate and graduate)
- Asheville & Columbia campuses
- Marketing and Communications
- President’s Cabinet
- University Deans
- Student Life
- Undergraduate and graduate students
- Information Technology
Executive Summary of Findings
Through discovery sessions, BarkleyREI learned about the biggest issues and challenges the LR team and prospective students face with the current website.
- The current site doesn’t bring the student experience to life or showcase the value of an LR education, and overall feels too institutional.
- The site’s information architecture is disorganized and the navigation isn’t effective or intuitive in guiding visitors where they need to go.
- Academic program pages are underwhelming, missing compelling details and valuable information for prospective students.
- LR’s campuses in Asheville and Columbia, including LTSS, are poorly represented.
- Graduate admission information is difficult to find without proper pathways for this audience.
- The site has outdated information and imagery, as updates are largely unplanned and reactive.
- Content is hidden from visitors in tabs, accordions and long scrolling pages.
Additional, more specific issues and opportunities were identified during individual stakeholder group sessions.
Overall, there was good alignment between what was discussed during the faculty and staff stakeholder sessions and the undergraduate and graduate student sessions.
- 80% of student participants ranked both academic programs and cost and affordability in their top three.
- 80% of student participants ranked class sizes and career outcomes/internship-related content in their top five.
We were pleased to see that the issues and opportunities identified during website discovery were in alignment with what we outlined in the original website assessment and described in the website redesign request for proposal (RFP).
- Create a visual design aesthetic that brings to life the unique LR experience felt on campus and messaging that feels less institutional.
- Develop an intuitive, user-driven architecture with clear navigational pathways for prospective students, current students, parents, and other important tertiary audiences.
- Create more robust academic program detail pages that fully showcase all that the programs offer to prospective students.
- Ensure that all campus and graduate pathways are represented to support an engaging, efficient user journey.
- Establish website governance guidelines and workflows to help ensure future site quality and success.
We have kicked off the Experience Design phase of the project, which will include building out the future website’s sitemap, information architecture and user journeys.