- Want solutions to the most common problems and challenges websites faced in higher education?
- Looking for innovative approaches and best practices to improve the quality of higher ed websites?
Entirely focused on higher ed websites, the 2018 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference took place on June 13, 2018 and is now available on-demand with a bonus of 3 extra sessions that weren’t presented at the live conference.
This on-demand conference is perfect for higher ed professionals and teams looking for ideas, best practices and lessons learned to inspire their summer web projects!
It features a dozen (+3 extra on-demand) of 10-minute sessions presented by higher ed professionals working in institutions just like yours — with real websites solutions to real higher ed problems.
Want to watch the 2018 Conference sessions?
- 12 recordings of the live sessions and the 3 extra on-demand sessions
- handouts (PDF)
- general Q&A recording
2018 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference Program
This online conference, now available on-demand, offers 12+3 focused sessions of about 10 minutes each and a general session Q&A.
From service to strategy: planning your way to a more productive web team
Cade Whitbourn, Web Manager – Charles Sturt University (Australia)
If you want your web team to play a more strategic role at your institution, you won’t succeed by operating like the website help desk. In this session, Cade Whitbourn will explain how his team switched from the service-model to a more strategic approach via the creation of an annual schedule of strategic web initiatives. You’ll find out more about the planning, process and delivery of this annual program as well as some lessons learned by the team.
Web Accessibility: Assess, Divide, and Conquer
Jessie Groll, Web Developer – Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Higher ed websites have to be accessible.With the increasing threat of legal action and the federal push for Web Accessibility in higher education, the compliance process can look challenging – and even frustrating at times. In this session, Jessie Groll will show us how making your website accessible can be achieved as you keep working on everything else on your list. You’ll learn about the tools (some free!) you can use to assess your site, how to break down the errors in manageable chunks and some useful lessons learned to achieve Web accessibility compliance.
How to beat the bots & get some sleep: making the case for DDoS Protection Services
Cody Benson, Sr. Director of Digital Strategy – Georgia State University
Are you afraid of the damages the bots can cause to your website or your web hosting bill in case of a DDoS attack? Do the risks for your web server keep you up at night? Somewhere between IT and communications lies technology to both secure web environments and availability. In this session, Cody Benson will explain how to make the case for DDoS Protection Services from the technical, organizational and budget standpoints. You’ll also find out more about what this kind of web hosting protection can do for your school.
Progressive Image Lazy Loading Techniques
Dan Herrero, Web Development Specialist – Lehigh University
Images make your website beautiful and engaging. They also tend to make it fat -and slow to load, too. This is why it’s so important to optimize these biggest assets and how they load on your web pages. In this session, Dan Herrero will explore the techniques for progressive lazy loading of images he relied on for Lehigh’s digital storytelling efforts. You’ll also hear about the reasons to use progressive image loading, how it was done (with code examples) and how to evaluate success when using this technique.
Making changes to your website without losing anything
Rebecca Larson, Director of Web Communications – Wheaton College
Whether you redesign your website, change some of its information architecture, implement a new CMS or switch to HTTPS, any change can have deep impact on your web traffic, analytics and sanity. So, how do you make sure nothing gets lost in the process? In this session, Rebecca Larson will share tips and lessons learned to help you prepare and plan for this kind of transitions. You’ll learn more about the process her team used to make sure the website relaunch of Wheaton College went smoothly.
Top 5 findings on websites from the 2018 E-Expectations Study
Stephanie Geyer, Vice President, Digital Marketing and Creative Services – Ruffalo Noel Levitz
The E-Expectations Study has provided reliable research data on the digital expectations of prospective students every year for more than a decade. Every year, the results of this national survey, conducted in March and April, are released in July.
In this session, Stephanie Geyer will share an exclusive preview of the top 5 key findings on higher ed websites from April 2018. You’ll be among the first to get access to these findings that will help you inform your web strategy for your incoming class of college freshmen as well as the 2019 high school seniors.
A website just for you: creating a personalized web experience.
Nicole Montgomery, Director of Digital Communications – York College of Pennsylvania
Personalization is a popular “buzzword” in higher education – and elsewhere. Nothing like a web experience designed “just for you” to make you feel special and keep you engaged. In this session, Nicole Montgomery will tell you how her team created “My York Experience” to provide prospective students with personalized content each time they visit York website. You’ll also learn more about the types of content as well as the analytics driving this web personalization tool.
Small team, short timeline: Lessons learned from a 4-month website redesign
Emily Mayock, Assistant Vice President, Online and Internal Communications – Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University needed a new admissions website to attract the best and brightest prospective students. Fast. In this session, Emily Mayock will tell you how her small team redesigned a student-centered website in only 4 months. You’ll learn through this case study what you can borrow from their process if you plan to redesign your admissions website to better serve prospective students and their fleeting attention span.
Context-driven usability techniques to build better higher ed websites
Dave Poortvliet, Web Manager – Grand Valley State University
While some of your campus stakeholders might disagree, the only reason why higher ed websites should be redesigned is to better serve the needs of their users. In this session, Dave Poortvliet will show how much you can learn by simply talking to and listening to them. You’ll find out more about 5 research-based techniques to help you see and hear what your visitors really need from your website.
Co-Designing your higher ed website with… high school students
Robert Blizzard, Coordinator of Web Design and Analysis – University of Saskatchewan
Website redesigns in higher education are perilous quests of consensus and collaboration among multiple campus stakeholders. The best strategy to reign in insiders is often found outside of our institutions. In this session, Robert Blizzard will share how he used participatory design techniques – with high school students – to co-create his school new admissions website. You’ll also find out more about the techniques that generated amazing insights and the ones resulting in fantastic flops.
Top UI/UX tools for higher ed websites
Elaine Shannon, Web Developer and User Interface Specialist – St. Mary’s University
After trying a variety of tools and processes, St. Mary’s University has identified a few tools which have proven the most valuable in keeping its websites usable, accessible, and up-to-date. In this session, Elaine Shannon will present each tool, its value and its (most of the time low) cost. You’ll learn more about tools to organize your information hierarchy, conduct A/B or usability testing, create wireframes in the cloud and more with the ultimate goal of helping you improve your higher ed website.
Improve your web design workflow with Sketch and Invision
Kris Hardy, Director of Web and Digital Marketing – Messiah College
Programs like Sketch and Invision are totally changing the web design process. Since it was first introduced in 2010, Sketch is now considered the industry standard by many. In this session, Kris Hardy we will show you how to use Sketch to wireframe, design and prototype web pages. You’ll find out how this tool – along with some Invision plugins – can dramatically improve the web design process of your entire team.
3 extra on-demand conference sessions (BONUS)
Accessible websites: It starts with a plan
Joel Vertin, Director of Digital Services – Michigan Technological University
There are many reasons to make sure your University’s website is accessible. It is the right thing to do. Many people can benefit. The threat of litigation. Whatever your motivation may be, you need someone to lead the way, you need help and resources, and you need a plan. In this session, Joel Vertin will share Michigan Technological University’s plan for achieving accessibility compliance. You’ll hear about timelines, strategies, actions, and people involved in the process to start your own plan.
5 suprising website relaunch lessons
Elizabeth Bandy, Marketing Manager – David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah
Considering redesigning or relaunching your university website? It’s never a small endeavour whether it’s the institutional website or a department site. In this session, Elizabeth Bandy will share 5 lessons learned while relaunching 35 sites for the University of Utah, David Eccles School of Business. You’ll learn some good and practical tips to help you check departmental website redesigns off your list by managing technical, design and human factors.
Going visual: Building the library website with the Divi theme
Conny Liegl, Senior Web Designer – California Polytechnic State University
Designing and developing websites from scratch takes time – even in WordPress. Solutions like Divi theme offer an alternate way to build websites with a front-end WYSIWYG editor. In this session, Conny will give us a tour of Divi highlighting the pros and the cons of such a solution. You’ll find out what she learned testing this visual solution on the Kennedy Library website.
Q&A with all the speakers
Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference Faculty
Cade is the head of the Web Office with overarching responsibility for oversight,
maintenance and development of CSU’s web environment. Cade has 18 years experience in web design and development across a range of industries including non-profit charities, online dating dotcoms, financial services, public sector (health) and higher education.
Jessie is the front-end Web Developer at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Communications Media. She’s always working to improve the user experience by making the website more accessible, intuitive, and functional. When she isn’t researching or implementing WCAG 2.0 compliance standards, she’s helping manage the CMS user interface, where the university’s hundreds of web maintainers work each day.
Creative technologist with substantial digital marketing and project experience. High premium on providing flexible Internet based solutions to support administration, demonstration, collaboration, learning and professional growth. Focus on strategic approach to technology with respect to competitive advantage. Provide leadership through entire project life cycles with a professional ROI project management focus to include concept, design, vendor sourcing, budget management, implementation, training, and support. Always interested in integrating technology in order to improve efficiency and provide more time for people to inspire others.
Dan Herrero is a Web Development Specialist on the Communications and Public Affairs team at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In his role as Web Development Specialist, he works to develop and maintain prioritized areas of the university’s website, and is passionate about exploring and implementing new web technologies and approaches.
Rebecca Larson is the Director of Web Communications at Wheaton College (IL), where, for the past five years, she has managed the web team and facilitated a cross-departmental social media team While she enjoys many aspects of her job, she secretly geeks out the most over Google Analytics. She loves the way analytics can be used to inform strategic content and design decisions, as well as clearly show the value of the website to the institution.
Stephanie Geyer directs digital marketing projects and oversees the creative services team for Ruffalo Noel Levitz.
In more than 20 years as a higher education consultant, Ms. Geyer has served at least 350 institutions in the United States, Canada, Italy, and Brazil, such as Arizona State University, John Cabot University (Rome), Golden Gate University (CA), and Sterling College (VT). In addition to providing consulting services, Ms. Geyer frequently delivers conference presentations about using the web as a recruitment communications tool, including at the RNL National Conference as well as the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. She manages the yearly E-Expectations market research project on the internet and e-recruitment behaviors of prospective college students and their parents.
Previous campus experience:
Prior to joining Ruffalo Noel Levitz, Ms. Geyer directed recruitment marketing programs for Wilkes University (PA), where undergraduate enrollment increased by 22.7 percent and retention increased by 11 percent. Previously, she held media and public relations positions for an advertising agency, a resort center, and a television news program.
Ms. Geyer received her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an MBA certificate from Tulane University.
Nicole Montgomery is the director of digital communications at York College of Pennsylvania. For the past two years, she has developed content and managed the website and social media channels. She also develops and implements a video marketing strategy to promote the institution with growing audiences.
With a passion for all things digital, Nicole enjoys keeping up with the changing higher education landscape.
Emily oversees online and internal communications at Case Western Reserve, including the university’s overall web presence, social media efforts, emergency communications, annual report and daily newsletter/news website. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and her MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve.
Provides technical direction and oversight of university web operations. Ensures design and development of custom web applications align with the strategic goals. Leads, manages, and mentors a talented team of web developers, designers, and student workers to deliver custom web applications that provide value to the faculty, staff, and students of the university.
Robert has long championed the use of user research and metrics in the design and redesign of web experiences. He currently manages the student focused websites of the University of Saskatchewan through a distributed content management structure. On the academic side, he is currently completing a Masters thesis exploring the use of service design practices in higher education.
Elaine Shannon is not just a web developer, she loves to look at the whole picture: design, development, content, SEO, user experience, A/B testing and analytics. She first learned about WordPress in 2007 and has been using and recommending it ever since. In her current role, she manages St. Mary’s University’s main website and a handful of microsites, always experimenting with ways to make the web a better place.
Kris Hardy is passionate about making the web a better place for prospective students and their families during the college search process.
Hardy currently serves as the Director of Web and Digital Marketing at Messiah College and works part-time at Ruffalo Noel-Levitz as an Associate Consultant. He specializes in user experience, information architecture and web analytics.
Joel Vertin is the Director of Digital Services within University Marketing and Communications at Michigan Technological University. He oversees a studio team as well as a team responsible for maintaining the University’s web presence. Vertin has an MBA and a bachelor’s of science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems. He is keenly interested in fostering relationships and shared goals in the multitude of spaces where content creation/marketing, search engine optimization, PR and news, and social media intersect on the world wide web.
Elizabeth is a marketing manager on the Marketing + Communications team and manages all the websites for the David Eccles School of Business. She also oversees the marketing strategy and tactics for several Eccles School programs, centers, and initiatives, and manages the M+C intern program and Eccles School newsroom.
Prior to joining the Eccles School, Elizabeth worked in several advertising agencies in Minneapolis, project managing nationwide social, digital, print, and out-of-home campaigns. She also worked for an international adoption agency and an NGO accelerator for teenagers, launching re-brands, creating websites, and directing fundraising events.
Conny Liegl is the Senior Designer for Web, Graphics and User Experience at Kennedy Library, Cal Poly. With 15+ years of experience working in international higher education institutes, Conny is passionate about solving problems and finding the right research tool for any audience, purpose and budget. She regularly shares methods, insights and best practices with the UX community. Making empathy part of her process, she champions the needs of the users. Conny is the 2015 winner of LITA contest Great Library UX Ideas Under $100. You can follow her at @connyliegl.
Should I get the Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference on-demand?
This on-demand conference is recommended for teams including:
- Higher Ed Web Professionals
- Online Marketing Specialists
- Web Communication Coordinators
- Web Coordinators
- Web Designers
- Web Developers
- Web Editors
- Web Managers
Still have questions? Contact Karine Joly at email@example.com
What is included in my Conference access fee?
The access fee covers 1-year licensing and includes the following:
- A 1-year unlimited access to the recordings of the 2018 sessions via on-demand streaming on our website.
- All session materials (slides handouts in PDF)