NECC Unveils Much Anticipated New Website
The redesigned Northern Essex Community College website launched earlier today. It is both aesthetically pleasing and user friendly.
The new and improved website is the culmination of two-plus years of work by various departments under the tutelage of Nathan Gilbert, director of NECC’s Online Communications. A college-wide internal review of the old website, which was last updated in 2009, revealed its shortcomings including the lack of direct entry as an existing student, prospective student, parents, or alumni.
Using focus groups, a series of “gateways” were designed to lead the users directly to the areas they are interested in instead of navigating through the “home page”. “Gateways are for visitors to our site who are seeking information based on who they are,” said Gilbert. “So an international student or a veteran can find relevant, useful information in just a click or two.”
“We were focused on functionality. Each gateway needed to be useful for a specific audience,” said Gilbert. “We designed it so someone could find useful, relevant information for them.”
“Phone, tablet, desktop,” says Gilbert, “The content resizes and rearranges itself for maximum viewing.”
It was designed with “goal-based” navigation in mind, said Gilbert. “An individual comes to the website with a goal in mind. They are looking for specific information. We now have those independent pages to direct them to the information faster.”
Hands down, Gilbert says the biggest improvement to the website is the “user experience”.
“We built it from the ground up with the user in mind,” he says. “We want a visit to the NECC webpage to be a pleasant experience and for the user to find what they are seeking.”
Other improvements users can expect include a larger font size as well as mandated web accessibility to the vision and hearing impaired.
“The web access guidelines exceed the minimum limits established by law,” said Gilbert.
For many reasons, according to Gilbert, it was time for an updated website. Most websites have a 5 or 6 year “shelf life”. Initially Northern Essex attempted to keep the project “in-house”. Once the scope of the project was realized, a request for proposals was posted. VisionPoint Marketing, a higher education marketing firm in North Carolina was selected in November of 2015.
“They had experience working with higher education institutions,” said Gilbert. “…especially with community colleges. They understood our unique needs.”
VisionPoint conducted an in-depth research phase before designing around the college’s needs.
“We took our design inspiration from high-end colleges,” said Gilbert. “Northern Essex and its students deserve a really high-end, functional website. The current website doesn’t really reflect the full college experience. Fresh photos and new videos highlighting the various academic areas featuring students, faculty and alumni change that.”
For additional information contact Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-556-3952.