CBU Website Redesign

CBU Website Redesign was a major website redesign project for California Baptist University from 2016.

My role

UX designer, project manager, and front-end developer.

My methods

Content strategy, wireframes, prototypes, UX research, UX writing, copywriting, project management, and front-end development.

Overview

California Baptist University (CBU) is one of Southern California's fastest growing university. In 2016, CBU had over 8,000 enrolled students and was in the midst of unprecedented growth across the university. I led a project team of designers, developers, and marketers to redesign and implement a website that would make content easier to find for future students and improve page performance (particularly important for international recruitment).

Problem

CBU's existing website in 2015-early 2016 was not meeting expectations from both business objective and student happiness metrics. Part of the problem was a rigid design that made it inflexible for increasingly varied marketing content and admissions requirements, and some significant user experience issues related to poor navigability.

Process

Due to time and resource constraints, I wore multiple hats on this project: UX designer, front-end developer, and project manager. I established a process that looked to achieve key milestones and clearly define the project schedule:

Photo of a whiteboard with content for CBU Website process schedule

CBU Website Redesign Project Phases

  • Discovery & Infrastructure — I identified project scope; I performed competitive analysis; team conducted stakeholder and user interviews; team evaluated and selected technology needs/platform
  • Design — I designed the UX (wireframes and simple prototype), team designed the UI (high fidelity designs)
    1. Testing — I tested designs with stakeholders from each key user group to validate direction
  • Development — I built the front-end templates; team built the backend and tied into technology platform
    1. Testing — I tested developed pages with key stakeholder groups

Discovery & Infrastructure

The team started from scratch with an extensive discovery phase. In this phase, the team conducted multiple user interviews of CBU constituents in an effort to understand how CBU’s website was being used. I also performed a competitive analysis and did a deep dive of other university websites as well as websites from other industries in order to identify user patterns and understand how other sites were working (or not working). I also performed a content audit to identify content to keep and content to delete. Finally, the team evaluated the technology platform and selected a new content management system to power the new site.

Collectively, the team identified the major pain points as follows:

  • Too many audiences — trying to serve multiple types of users and not doing it well
  • Not focused on enrollment — key university objective was an enrollment goal of 10,000 by 2020, and current website was not focused on that goal
  • Lack of clarity — no consistency with content, no clear pathways for users, and too much/too little content

Design

Discovery produced an exhaustive amount of data to help establish where the design direction needed to go. With the three primary pain points in mind, I designed wireframes that adopted a task-based methodology and focused on content clarity. Once wireframes were done, I worked with CBU's art director to transform the wireframes into UI designs.

Photo of a wireframe sketch for CBU website task-based design

One of my earlier wireframe sketches for task-based design

Early wireframe sketch of news and events landing page

Early wireframe sketch of news and events landing page

Early wireframe sketch of news article template

Early wireframe sketch of news article template

Early wireframe sketch of program search feature

Early wireframe sketch of program search feature

Mobile homepage wireframe

Mobile homepage wireframe

Desktop homepage wireframe

Desktop homepage wireframe

UI design for CBU site

Completed UI design by CBU Art Director

Development

As part of Discovery & Infrastructure phase, we decided to leverage a third-party content management system which required development of templates to support the new design. Using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and some XML sprinkled in here and there, I developed multiple templates to support the new designs and their content needs. I then worked with the backend developer to integrate the database and page data into the templates.

Reflection

All of this work was completed by a small team over ten months (!!!). It was incredibly ambitious, but resulted in creation of a task-based content strategy and design system still in use today. It's one of my proudest achievements as a team leader and UX designer.