The Home Stretch

With our new website set to launch the first week of June – the Siena team has been hard at work to complete our Content Migration Phase.

Content Migration is a fast and furious phase—it requires a LOT of time and effort—but not to
worry, we got this! A team of editors from across campus have been working through every
page on our current website to decide what needs to be migrated.

Mitzi Bianchi, web interface specialist, has been spearheading the migration. She provided the team with an extremely detailed spreadsheet of all of the pages that needed to be brought over to the new website, who would be completing the transfer and where the information is
coming from.

It should be no surprise to anyone who has been following our website redesign journey—the
new website has a very different look than the current site. With a new design comes new
strategy. Our team has been not just copying and pasting, but rethinking and reimaging how
elements on our current website will need to be presented on our new site.

Some key questions we have kept in mind during content migration:

  • Where does the content current reside in our site? Is it in more than one location? Where is it linked from?
  • Is the content going to stay the same or will I need to rewrite it?
  • What template does this content currently use? In the redesign, will I be changing templates or keeping the same one?
  • Who owns this content – is it admissions, a department head, student life, etc.?

Luckily, some of our larger elements have been migrated by the Fast Spot team. This includes:

  • News Stories and Events
  • Admissions Blog
  • Faculty Profiles

With all of this in mind—we expect some pages will need additional tweaks post-launch. With
our new design, the migration team has had to make decisions on behalf of the page owners in order to get through the process in a timely manner. After the site launches we will be working to get our page editors up to speed with the best practices so everyone is happy with how the new site looks and functions.

Our Style Guide is going to play a key role in introducing our editors to the new website—so
look around, explore and learn about some of our new elements.

Keep an eye out for our new website launching June 5th !

Design Phase – Check!

We hit an important milestone in our website redevelopment this week, signing off on the design templates that will be used to build out the new Those of us contributing to the project daily are excited to see the work of the past seven months begin to come to life.

The design of builds off what was learned in the Discovery process and outlined in the Creative Brief by providing aesthetic direction that is engaging, flexible and future-ready. The Fastspot team presented two distinct design options, and worked with us to adjust the selected version to best fit our needs and desires. The chosen concept was brought to the website steering committee for final feedback. Once these changes were incorporated, the templates that will serve as the foundation for the rest of the webpages were developed, and after several rounds of feedback and edits, approved.

The new design is introduced through a dynamic, responsive homepage that allows us to tell the Siena story in more powerful ways. Users are welcomed with a full screen, video montage that leverages our creative assets to dramatically showcase Siena’s distinctive value. The homepage is further divided into three customizable ‘blocks’: What Saints Do includes fresh content highlighting everything from research to study abroad to student life experiences, Can You Afford It? Yes You Can highlights the value of a Siena degree and financial aid, and What’s Happening on Campus pulls in the latest campus news and events as well as feature items from our popular admissions blog. The homepage maintains the most popular aspect of our current website – a program finder, presented just under the fold.  

As different as the new homepage is in look and feel and the opportunity to present diverse content in inspiring ways, the biggest change may be what it doesn’t include. Our current home page has 159 navigational menu links – a dizzying display of what can happen when you try to predict where a visitor to your website may want to go. The new site tucks away its menu in a sandwich icon on the top right of the page. When clicking on this icon, a dropdown menu displays with five prominent links aimed at our primary audiences (prospective students and their influencers), along with secondary options that quickly get other frequent visitors where they need to go.  The removal of more than 100 navigational choices is made possible through a ground-breaking search function that takes advantage of a flatter Information Architecture that allows the user to control their website experience in a familiar way.

The new design (and search functionality) also addresses our current two site structure (.edu page and community page). Internal audiences (students, faculty and staff) have easy access to a landing page that houses the operational resources necessary to efficiently performing our jobs. Content that lives elsewhere will be accessible to all audiences and should be thoughtfully developed to ensure the message is on brand and consistent in voice. A content strategy document is being prepared to assist page editors in this process.   

Change isn’t easy. The Strategic Plan challenges us to transform our strategies and approach to better meet the demands of the marketplace, and to craft a compelling message that strengthens our brand by conveying the unique value of a Siena education. To do this effectively, our primary communications tool needs to exceed the expectations of our primary audience and drive them to act. We must move into an environment where user experience is at the forefront of our decision making process. The new website design gives us the opportunity to do all this and more.

As we transition into the development phases, the project remains on track for a June 1, 2018 launch.

Stay tuned to the Daily Digest for an upcoming community presentation that will provide a sneak peek of the new design.

Information Architecture

The next step in our website redevelopment process was the Information Architecture (IA)
phase. Through the Discovery and Research phases, the Fastspot team got to know Siena: who we are, what we need and how our users currently use our website. They used all of this information to create our unique IA.

What is IA? This is the organizational and navigational structure of the website. This includes organization, navigation, naming conventions and content recommendations. This phase was presented to the Website Redesign Core Team, as well as the Website Committee.

Siena’s new IA is primarily focused on user-friendly navigation. We want our website users to find what they want quickly and effectively, while also being able to get a glimpse of what it means to be a Saint. As you’ll remember from the Discovery process (Creative Brief), we identified our primary audience (user) as prospective students and their influencers. Current students, faculty and staff, alumni and friends, local community members, sports fans and other stakeholders were identified as secondary or tertiary audiences.

The goal of the IA was to efficiently and powerfully represent all aspects of the Siena experience to the user: academics, the application process, financial aid, housing, dining, programs, high-impact learning practices, Siena’s value and return on investment, offices and departments.

This may seem like a daunting task (and at times it was!), but Fastspot worked with our core team to develop innovative solutions that will help streamline our navigation and enhance user experience. The development of dynamic search functions ensures easy, intuitive access to every major, minor, program, office, and department from the homepage without cluttering the navigation or distracting from the information our primary audience wants and expects.

It’s important to note that the IA structure of the new website is much different than the current experience on By making sure we remain audience-focused we will be able to build a more dynamic, user-friendly experience that drives demand for the College.

With the Information Architecture phase complete, we move on to the design phase. First, we will explore layout and storyboard concepts, and then we will move on to the graphic look and feel of the new website.

Setting the Stage: Creative Brief

We’ve hit another milestone in our web redesign process: the Creative Brief.

The Creative Brief serves as a guide for the development of all visual and organizational elements for the new site and outlines the redesign objectives. It’s the result of a thorough review of Siena’s brand and marketing materials, findings from a review of, as well as information gathered during the discovery meetings.

As we continue to move through the web redesign process, we will continually refer to the Creative Brief to ensure objectives remain top of mind and that we focused on our goals and vision.