What’s Wrong (and Right) with the Current Siena Website(s)?

As part of the Discovery Phase for the website redevelopment project, Fastspot recently performed a Content Audit.

Our core website working group – consisting of representatives from Marketing and Communications and ITS – worked with Fastspot to identify 50 of our top current web pages for a thorough review.

The pages were selected primarily based on analytics and included a blend of content that provided a broad representation of material across our website. Since the majority of our website traffic is limited to a small number of pages, the content audit offers a good analysis of a typical visitor experience.

The audit detailed select pages from both the siena.edu and community.siena.edu as well as landing pages created through Hubspot for student recruitment. In addition to a short review of each of the 50 specific pages, the Fastspot team provided some thematic feedback for consideration:

  1. Adapting to a new design: Many of the content decisions on the current site seem to have been made because of the limitations of the current system, especially a heavy reliance on image carousels and link lists. When bringing content over, be sure that you’re looking for ways to use the entire design system.
  2. Fractured Processes: A lot of these pages seem to stand on their own instead of as part of an integrated system, which makes processes feel disjointed. When creating website sections, especially those that support important user actions, structure out the optimal user flow and craft content that supports those actions.
  3.  Hub pages: Some pages use a massive hub of links in the page content area instead of utilizing well-structured side navigation. While these hub pages have their uses, they should be significantly more rare. Users should find useful information on each page and feel like they’re moving in the correct direction.
  4. Remember the story: A few times, these pages default to a dry explanation of the portion of the college you’re looking at. Most of the time users don’t care about this: they’re trying to understand themselves in relation to this area or they’re looking to complete specific tasks.
  5. Consistency: While any site of this scale has numerous editors, and it’s important to shift tone in specific parts of the site, in general there is a large inconsistency between the tone and function of different sections of the site. This can be very jarring sometimes, and makes some pages feel like they’ve been abandoned.

Although the content audit doesn’t touch every page, it’s a good starting point and an indication of what Fastspot is learning from our current website. The audit ranked the quality of content into five categories and quality followed a bell curve across the 50 pages according to Fastspot: Excellent (3 pages), Good (13 pages), Satisfactory (14 pages), Needs Improvement (18 pages), and Poor (2 pages).

Fastspot also provided some helpful suggestions that we will be able to take action on immediately to
improve the current website experience and better prepare for migration to the new site. The Marketing and Communications office will be coordinating with web editors to make this happen.

Be Our Guest: Siena’s Onsite Visit with Fastspot

On Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29 members of the Fastspot team came to Siena’s campus to learn what it means to be a Saint. Although the website redesign process has just started, they have already heard a lot about our community. This onsite visit gave them a chance to see first-hand what Siena is all about.

Four members of the Fastspot team joined us through the two days:

  • Abigail, project manager
  • Curt, creative director
  • Lucas, UX strategist
  • Scott, designer

The group met with representatives from all across campus from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. both days. Through the discussions, group activities and feedback, the Fastspot team gained a better understanding of our academic and campus culture and what makes Siena special, all while exploring the needs of each department and group.

Fastspot met with:

  • Website Committee
  • Cabinet
  • Admissions Team
  • IT Department
  • Student Life and Campus Inclusion
  • Marketing and Communications Department
  • Alumni Group
  • Faculty Group
  • Web Editors
  • Miscellaneous Community Members
  • Current Students

These meetings provided the foundation for what will be the creative brief. This vision for the project will include objectives, style characteristics, considered audiences, and a plan for measuring success. Stay tuned for more on the creative brief in later posts!