Reimagined UX helps save NKU’s accreditation

A modern university in Kentucky with a less-than-modern library website, NKU needed a streamlined online hub for content that would not only be useful for students and faculty, but also save a valuable accreditation.

Challenge

In early 2020, Northern Kentucky University was in danger of losing accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. To be accredited on an ongoing basis, schools have to meet and continue to uphold specific standards.

While NKU was meeting many other accreditation metrics, the website for their Steely Library was falling short. The library site was full of valuable content, but it was difficult to find due to poor organization and a lack of intuitive navigation.

Services:

Competitive analysis Content inventory & audit User experience planning Information architecture development Responsive website design & development User testing Systems integration

A modern university in Kentucky with a less-than-modern library website, NKU needed a streamlined online hub for content that would not only be useful for students and faculty, but also save a valuable accreditation.

Services:

Competitive analysis Content inventory & audit User experience planning Information architecture development Responsive website design & development User testing Systems integration

Challenge

In early 2020, Northern Kentucky University was in danger of losing accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. To be accredited on an ongoing basis, schools have to meet and continue to uphold specific standards.

While NKU was meeting many other accreditation metrics, the website for their Steely Library was falling short. The library site was full of valuable content, but it was difficult to find due to poor organization and a lack of intuitive navigation.

Responsive web design on multiple devices
Detail of design mockups and template
Interactive prototype

Strategy

NKU had a critical need for a user-friendly, easily accessible and searchable website for Steely Library. With an accreditation deadline looming, the Sanger & Eby team got to work quickly.

We first performed a competitive audit on peer library websites chosen by NKU. We worked with our client team to identify white space areas for the Steely site as part of this analysis and uncovered opportunities for NKU to develop a truly best-in-class online library website.

Next, we met with the IT department at the college to get a technical deep dive of the framework of the Northern Kentucky University website. They required that we build within the same content management system as the rest of the site and that we limit custom code, so having a deep understanding of the complexities of their system was paramount to our system design.

Then, the real fun began. The Sanger & Eby content team worked hand-in-hand with the team at NKU to understand, consolidate and reorganize more than 3,500 pages of library content and resources spread across 6 microsites. Working through this exercise helped our UX team in designing a new sitemap, site organization and user pathways, all of which we put to the test with actual NKU students, faculty and staff.

Tech stack

The following languages and platforms were used to bring this project to life:

Languages

JavaScript
HTML5/CSS
Custom Responsive CSS

Frameworks/tools

Bootstrap
jQuery

CMS

Adobe Experience Manager
CRXDE Lite

Results

The new Steely Library website launched on time to meet NKU’s aggressive deadline (oh, did we mention this project was all accomplished virtually during #COVID19?). We are pleased to report that NKU is now poised to keep their accreditation from the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The Sanger & Eby team is particularly proud of the Steely site, as it is visually pleasing, extremely usable and intuitive. We are excited to continue supporting the NKU Steely Library team post-launch with web maintenance and any additional future development needs that may arise.

 

Does your website need a better user experience? Let’s talk.