Design with Flexibility
Simpson provided the wireframes and general design concepts, which we in turn translated into functional website designs that conform to a responsive grid. The design process was two-fold — to establish the overall look and feel of the site and to guide the definition of requirements, content types, and relationships. We created a number of page templates to handle the plethora of content as only a college has. We designed the shell of the site (global header, global footer, sidebar appearance, etc.), while still allowing Simpson the ability control the layout of their pages using Carrington Build. We leveraged Carrington Core to easily and logically build the various views to match the designs.
It’s all Relative
Using inherent WordPress content organization (categories, tags, custom taxonomies, custom post types), we were able to group content by school departments (e.g.: Biology, Chemistry, Admissions, etc.). Taking this one step further, when an admin user creates a new school department, custom taxonomies for department categories and department tags are created; allowing any assigned author or editor to create content specific to their department. By creating a department, the admin also creates a custom menu for that school.
Responsive and Adaptive
Leveraging media queries and a flexible grid, we implemented a responsive site with an intended browsing experience for not only desktop browsers, but also mobile and tablet devices. This responsive design also takes into account custom features, such as the custom carousel with images and video. A prospective student is no longer restricted to getting more information from a desktop browser. In the mobile view the site includes certain adaptations like collapsed navigation menus to allow users to find the same information that’s available on a larger view in a more phone-friendly view.
Integration with Datatel
When Simpson is already keeping track of all of their faculty and staff members, why try to manage that data in another place? Using an XML export from Simpson’s own HR management software (Datatel) we import the user information, overwriting any specified field in the users profile with the latest information from Datatel. If Simpson hires a new person, it’s no problem; this import happens daily.
Roles and Permissions
There are many users that contribute content; from faculty and staff who update their biographies to administrators who need to manage all pages within their department. As such, we extended WordPress’ user roles to provide a robust permission system to allow each user all the access he or she needs, but no more. Faculty and staff members can build a custom biography through the fully-featured WordPress editor screen (and even add and edit their own media), authors can create and edit posts specific to their assigned departments, and editors can manage pages, posts, and navigation menus for their assigned departments. Nobody ever sees posts or pages in the admin that they don’t have the ability to manage making publishing and updates simple.
The news center is the way to keep a finger on the pulse of Simpson. The latest photos and videos of newsworthy items are added here. These posts can be related to one or more departments at Simpson, and you can easily see more news about a department by following the department’s link right on the page.
The Simpson team came to us with the requirement for a “category, tag busting website”, which is exemplified in the News Center. News Center posts are related together just like any other WordPress posts so that users can catch up on all of the Simpson news in one location. These posts are also related to department categories. This way individual departments can reference news posts that are relevant to their college.
One important recruiting tool we helped create is a survey where prospective students can indicate and learn more about programs of interest across educational departments and extracurricular activities. Once the tool generates a custom page of these interests, a personal link is generated to reference back to. With this contact information Simpson’s admissions team can identify prospective students’ interests and customize their programs and marketing efforts accordingly and individuals can quickly find more information about their specific interests.