Last year, the university announced that it would undertake a massive multi-year project: The Web Improvement Project (WIP), aimed at revamping and improving the entire digital presence of the institution. This campus-wide effort marks the first funded, comprehensive web initiative in UofL’s history, and is the largest concurrent ‘reset’ of UofL websites, systems and platforms.
The Web Improvement Project is focused on enhancing the daily lives of students, faculty and staff by modernizing and improving all university web-based experiences, as well as the processes behind developing and maintaining them. This digital overhaul will allow the university to attract great new students while fostering a stronger relationship with the community.
Due to the complexity and breadth of the project, it has been divided into three main phases with overlapping timelines. This phased approach will allow for the quick transformation of the highest traffic sites and ensure that all websites at UofL will be revamped for their appropriate audiences.
The project is currently in Phase 1, which focuses on how the university interacts with audiences externally, measurably closing the gap between expectation and experience on our web properties. By identifying the needs and building necessary pathways for our external audiences, prospective students, parents and community members will be more prepared to take meaningful action. The second phase will address the needs of current students to be informed and engaged, to further support their paths to academic success. Improving the digital workflow, creating processes and promoting collaboration between departments will be the focus of the final phase, impacting the platforms university employees use on a daily basis.
Overseeing this project is the Executive Committee, which is comprised of members from the President’s Office, Information Technology Services, Enrollment Management, Compliance and the Office of Communications and Marketing. The Executive Committee provides vision, direction and scope for the initiative while ensuring that improvements align with the university’s mission and values.
The Executive Committee is led by Michael Wade Smith, chief of staff and vice president for external affairs.
“The web is the first stop on many, maybe most, journeys with UofL. The outcome of this project will be a university website that increases the value of our UofL brand, quickly drives visitors to the information they seek, and makes it easy for those wanting to more deeply engage with UofL – by applying, donating, partnering and more – to do so,” Smith stated.
Recommendations to the Executive Committee on the topics of tools, support, processes, governance and change management across all three phases are generated by the Steering Committee. This committee has provided an avenue for open and honest conversations with the university community about our digital environment and facilitated necessary workgroups throughout the multi-year project. These groups have created the opportunity for more in-depth discussion and collaboration around various digital topics, helping us leverage the expertise spread across the university in a way that benefits all of our organization.
Co-leading the Steering Committee and the progress of the project overall are Amber Peter of the Office of Communications and Marketing and Brad Andersen of Information Technology Services.
“We’ve been really intentional, ensuring this project not just be about the replacement of an enterprise technology system, but a change in the way we work in this space. Even more important to our success than the system that is chosen, is the environment around that system. Providing everyone with the resources, training and support they need to accomplish their goals in this digital environment is paramount to the success of this project,” Andersen stated.
In addition to addressing the system and the resources available, woven throughout this project has been continual campus involvement. According to Peter, “From the beginning, we set out to get as many varied perspectives on this topic as possible, and that has not only helped keep our recommendations balanced, but has also provided an invaluable reminder of the cascading impact decisions such as these carry.”
To-date, surveys, committees and workgroups have been the most tangible ways campus has been able to engage with the project. Employees have also been encouraged to get involved by contacting members of the Steering Committee to share concerns or questions or through requesting involvement in upcoming focus groups. There will even be an opportunity in the coming months for campus community members to provide feedback regarding final CMS selection. Faculty and staff members can stay informed about the project through multiple channels, including UofL Today, UofL News, the project website as well as communications from leadership as significant milestones are achieved.