WLU Website Update
Since its launch in October, Wilfrid Laurier University’s official new website has been focused on giving prospective students the chance to see the university on a cleaner slate.
Ken Boyd, Laurier’s director of ICT solutions, said since its launch the site has been getting a tremendous amount of hits. The website launched a week before Laurier’s fall open house sessions, which Boyd said was the “sweet spot” to launch the site.
“The idea behind this webpage is for prospective students. It’s for students that we’re trying to attract to Laurier,” said Boyd.
According to Boyd, the number of students who have applied to Laurier for next fall has grown in comparison to last year.
Heidi Maissan, web manager at Laurier’s communications, public affairs and marketing department, and Helen Exley, associate director of marketing and creative services at CPAM, believe the website has contributed to the rising number of prospective students.
“I think it’s a large contribution to it,” said Maissan. “This whole site was built for the prospective students so it gives them all that information that they can easily find when they’re deciding which university to attend.”
Maissan said there have been minimal changes made to the website post-launch. Usability testing was performed with prospective students to help CPAM change the website before launch.
“There were a few little tweaks that we did right before launch based on some feedback, but there really hasn’t been anything that we’ve needed to adapt or change since we launched,” she explained.
Laurier’s “legacy” website is still up and running, according to Boyd, but unlike the new website, it doesn’t lend itself to Google analytics.
“That’s part of how they’ve been improving the user experience to make things more efficient, because you can see if someone takes three clicks to get to a spot — we know that now and so we can reorder it,” said Boyd.
Exley and Maissan said the beginning of the new website caused confusion for students, staff and faculty who were trying to find their information. CPAM is in the planning phase and is currently putting information onto the new site from Laurier’s legacy website.
“In time there are 400,000 webpages on the legacy site so it’s going to take a while,” said Boyd. “We need to rationalize what we’ll move over and what needs to be just discarded and rewritten. There’s a lot of work — it’s a big deal.”
According to Exley and Maissan, most feedback on the website has been positive from both prospective and current students.
“We will continue to review any feedback and conduct further usability testing with prospective students now that we are post-launch to determine any further changes,” said Maissan.
According to Exley, information from staff, faculty and current students won’t be integrated onto the new website because of the target audience.
“Giving a site for a specific audience makes the most sense so there’s no confusion between the two worlds,” she “We were all in one world before so we’re really trying to target each site for the key audience.”