A New Website for Higher Education — the UW Robinson Center for Young Scholars

Posted
10.01.2020
Ipad with responsive website design for the UW Robinson Center for Young Scholars

The University of Washington Robinson Center for Young Scholars — a long-time Jennergy client for nearly a decade — asked our team to design and develop a fresh, new website driven by data. The school needed to update their site to the latest University of Washington brand, as well as redesign the overall structure of their site to be of better use for their students, parents, and staff. The Jennergy team took a holistic approach to the design, and the result is a completely customized website to match the Robinson Center’s specific needs and vision.

In order to best understand what needed to be updated in their website, we began the process with a website audit. We gave an in-depth review of how people are finding the website, the experiences they have when they arrive, and how users were navigating through the website as a whole. A deep dive into their Google Analytics gave us insights into which pages were working to their advantage, and which pages needed to be reorganized, repurposed, or removed. Based on the Jennergy website audit, our team provided recommendations for the overall structure of the Robinson Center’s primary and secondary navigation, an updated sitemap, as well as identified user flow, much needed call-to-actions (CTA’s), and overall hierarchy restructure to improve the site content and level of engagement. Taking all of that information based on data, we started a redesign and overhaul of their website.

The University of Washington provides a branded UW WordPress theme for departments and schools to use. Using this theme as a foundation, Jennergy completely customized the theme specific to client requests and needs, while analyzing the data found in our web audit to confirm specific placement and priority on each page. For the past several years, Jennergy was a large part of the newly designed University of Washington brand, so revisiting the UW Brand guidelines, custom WordPress theme, and other design treatments came easily for the team. We also understood the considerations for staying on-brand, all the while still creating a unique and attractive site for the Robinson Center.

The new website has a great deal of customized content and features, created specifically for the Robinson Center and higher education. The Jennergy team worked closely with client to provide custom programming and databases for their needs and requests. The Robinson Center offers nine different programs, which are their most highly visited pages. Because their program pages provide the most information towards prospective students, we focused on this section. By spending time considering the users experience, we made sure to customize  specific details on each program, such as a unique icon bar for the individual program to quickly direct users to the content they seek.

Built to Client Specs — Databases Customized

Their Robinson Center’s website also relies on multiple databases, so it was important to listen to our client and build a website that specifically addressed their pain points and would make updating the website easier. By analyzing the data and what the client needed, we decided to create several custom databases: a jobs database (to lists available jobs at the Center), a program sortable staff database (which provides staff members with photos and bios), and a Mentors database list (allowing the UW alumni to connect with current students and help them with life and job questions as they graduate).

An international, higher education application process for any university can be complicated, not only for those applying on a public facing website, but also for the administration staff that needs to process the incoming applications. Recognizing that pain point for the Robinson Center, the Jennergy team built an online portal for families so they can easily apply to any of the nine programs worldwide. The application process includes application questions, entering test scores, uploading transcripts, getting teacher recommendations, and selecting classes. Upon acceptance, the families can complete all school forms online, as well as pay for their courses. The system handles thousands of applications at once, and allows families to easily view past applications, make payments, and manage their profiles.

We also built an admin area so Robinson Center staff can manage all of the submitted applications. This includes tracking which parts of an application have been submitted, moving students through the acceptance process, sending emails to families, tracking submitted forms, tracking payments, and sorting accepted applicants into various courses. It’s a powerful system that the Robinson Center uses to manage the entire application process from start to finish.

Happy Clients, Happy Team

We are thrilled with the final completion and launch of the UW Robinson Center website, and what always matters most to our team is our clients are happy with their final product. Our client relationships are very important to us, and receiving this wonderful message from their Director, Nancy Hertzog, after the website launch made the success that much sweeter:

 


 

Creating a masterpiece – that was the goal and the end product of working with Jennergy over the last 8 years! When I first took on the Directorship of the Robinson Center for Young Scholars (2010), summer programs were still accepting paper applications and faxes which would fly off the copy machine at random times throughout the day. Although that system worked (barely) for about 300 students, it wasn’t a sustainable model to grow the program.

The Jennergy team worked together to create, basically from scratch, a user-friendly website for the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at the University of Washington. It was user friendly for both the external and internal audiences that were going to use the site. The newest version is now UW branded and user-friendly from a mobile app! The Robinson Center website accepts applications and registrations for nine specific programs (with different and very specific admittance procedures) and holds a database for all applicants. In addition, it hosts a mentor bank, videos and information specific to each program. Over 800 students enroll in our summer programs alone.

Jennergy partnered with our staff to create systems that made our work efficient, family friendly, and most of all aesthetic! Working with them to create every single function of the website, I can’t say enough about how they were able to translate my ideas (from a nonprogrammer) and make sense to function using their computer coding skills. And always, no matter what I asked him to do, even if it was changing something completely around, Chris would say, “Yeah, we can do that!” Over the past 8 years, Chris has maintained our website, and has always responded immediately to occasional glitches, or to system overload on opening day for our program registrations.

In addition, both Jenn and Chris have worked with UW technology personnel to create the necessary systems that connect the Robinson Center to other UW servers and sites. What I loved about working with the team is that they were enthusiastic problem solvers!! Our website is complicated, but the Jennergy team have made it accessible to the rest of the staff to easily update and edit – When I think back to where we started, and to where that website is now, I’m amazed! I know that they have put hours and hours and hours into making it work for us! Thank you!

— Nancy B. Hertzog, Ph.D., University of Washington College of Education

 


 

Check out the new the UW Robinson Center for Young Scholars website here!

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