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Ivy Tech Community College

Evolving a Website and a Brand

Ivy Tech’s new site is modern, user-friendly & drives results

Ivy Tech Community College is the largest singly-accredited community college in the country, serving more than 177,000 students each year, with 75 academic programs and 45 locations across Indiana. We were engaged to completely re-architect, redesign, and rebuild their primary public-facing website, IvyTech.edu, as well as simultaneously evolve the Ivy Tech brand based on recently conducted branding research.

 Ivy Tech’s website was in a challenging state when our partnership began. The site’s organization and design were relatively unchanged from its launch (in 2015!), and the site’s content management system (CMS) was outdated, confusing, and difficult for their team to manage. As a result, the site was suffering from outdated design patterns and brand messaging, confusing and hidden navigation, inaccurate and duplicative content, and extreme site bloat. As such, all parties agreed that a complete rebuild was necessary to create a solid foundation for continuous improvement moving forward.

So, what did we do?

User Research & Business Goals
To start, we talked to site users. The college hadn’t conducted any user research in at least eight years, and we had strong suspicions that users were having trouble finding information and completing tasks. An intercept survey and live interviews with real site users illuminated the site’s greatest challenges and helped us formulate our approach. We also conferred extensively with internal stakeholders to identify the biggest pain points and establish tangible business goals for the redesign (and there are a LOT of internal stakeholders with a higher-ed website). Our goals were to generate inquiries and applications and to improve the experience for current students, who were rather critical of the site.

Content Organization & Design
After a thorough content inventory, we completely reorganized the site around the needs of its most important audiences—prospective and current students. Thousands of pages were cut and dozens of new ones were added to help address content gaps. We focused on increasing findability by introducing a new multi-level navigation header, on-page navigation, breadcrumbs, and an understandable URL structure. Special attention was paid to improving the searchability of the college’s academic program information—the number one reason all users visit the site. The site’s design aesthetic was completely reimagined to achieve a fresh, modern look that includes increased original photography, branding opportunities on all pages, variable promotion spaces, and a new focus on outcome statistics to support the brand evolution.

Focus on Outcomes
To communicate the value of an Ivy Tech degree, we leveraged large-scale data and the power of real-life graduates' stories. Hero images and testimonial areas showcase actual Ivy Tech alumni enjoying successful post-grad careers and lives, showing site visitors relatable, desirable outcomes. And we incorporated data—such as “92% of Ivy Tech alumni would choose to attend Ivy Tech again” and “Graduates earn an average of $10,000 more with a 2-year degree”—in an engaging, infographic style to prove that these stories weren't outliers, but rather part of a larger and consistent narrative: Ivy Tech helps propel its grads along to achieve not just valuable degrees, but the better life such degrees make possible.

Easy-to-Use CMS
Since the back end of the site was as difficult to navigate and use as the front end, we put deliberate thought toward building the new Umbraco CMS to be intuitive and time-saving. We built in editing permissions that enable editors from different areas of the college to own their specific portion of the site. And while Ivy Tech’s website shrunk in size as part of the redesign, it still contains a significant amount of content subject to frequent edits, including contact information, outcome stats, and various counts for the number of programs, special programs, locations, and more. To make site maintenance as easy as possible, we implemented many strategies, but here are two highlights:

We balanced the need for fast, significant changes with the enormity of the task itself, rolling out incremental waves of site updates. Each wave contained a different substantive improvement, starting with the highest-priority fixes (homepage, new navigational structure, filterable academic programs page) and proceeding down the list (section main pages, campus microsites, program detail pages, and so on). The new content management system supports the rapid deployment of new pages using flexible templates and allows for different user permissions for departments and campuses.

How did it turn out?

Anecdotally, Ivy Tech started noticing results within 24 hours of launching phase one, with more people inquiring to a general info email than ever before thanks to the fact that users could actually find contact info for their questions. Website analytics revealed that the new navigation and prominent calls-to-action had an immediate, positive impact on driving conversions as well. In the year following the launch of our first two phases, the number of clicks to apply on the website increased +16.4%. Further, users visiting the site were more likely to apply, as the click-to-apply rate rose +5.7%

In subsequent phases, we methodically built out numerous, highly detailed yet scannable pages, providing users with updated content about programs (majors), classes, costs, financial aid, student services, and more—all things that users asked to see when we interviewed them. As new content and functionality were rolled out, we continued to drive better and better results. In the first academic year since the fully revamped site launched, the application click-to-apply rate once again improved year-over-year by +29.3%. Further, the college’s Fall enrollment was up +6.88%

Ivy Tech improves Hoosier lives every day; helping make their website more effective so they can improve those lives more easily is important work, and it's an honor for our agency to be entrusted with it.


  • Services
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Budgeting
  • Audience Research
  • Website Usability Testing
  • Surveys
  • User Research
  • Information Architecture
  • Responsive Design
  • Content Strategy
  • Content Development
  • SEO
  • Custom Programming
  • CMS Buildouts
  • Hosting
  • Mobile Design
  • Dashboards
  • Website Analytics
  • Client
  • Ivy Tech Community College
  • Industry
  • Education

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