One Size Fits None: Remaking a College Site for a Content Hungry Generation

UAD4 Usability, Accessibility and Design

Location: Ballroom C

MONDAY, 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

From Netflix to Spotify to Amazon, prospective students are accustomed to personalized websites that offer recommendations to help them discover new content or products. When they arrive at most college and university websites the experience is very different. It can feel static and generic by comparison. The culprit? In order to tame the massive amount of content and competing priorities of college websites, a one-size-fits-all home and landing page approach has proliferated. When North Central College decided to redesign its website they wanted to break that one-size-fits-all mold and engage tech-savvy prospects with an experience that felt different from other school sites. With agency partner Spark451, North Central took cues from non-higher ed sites to develop a concept called “stacks.” Stacks are topically bundled content cards. For example, a photo of a faculty member, a video, a student quote, career facts, all related to a particular major. Stacks allow for things like curated categories, and can be embedded into landing pages, news articles and other types of content. They help North Central repurpose and surface content in strategic ways that support admissions efforts. Attendees will learn how North Central took a radical approach to organizing its content to create a user experience that’s different for higher-ed but feels familiar (in a good way) to prospective students.

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Christopher Jones
Director of Web Communications, North Central College

Christopher Jones is the director of web communications for North Central College in Naperville, IL. At North Central, he oversees the strategy, content, design, and information architecture for the institution's web presence. Previously, he was the public affairs associate for Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago--a child and family policy research institution. He has written about marketing and public policy for several Chicago-area publications including Gaper's Block and Technori.

Ardis Kadiu
Principal, Chief Creative Technologist , Spark451

A seasoned interactive/web creative director, Ardis Kadiu possesses a solid background in web design and development, interaction design, user experience, visual and motion design as well as business and technology innovation. His passion for creating compelling interactive experiences that map to business objectives and results is manifested in his extensive body of work ranging from higher education websites and mobile applications to e-commerce applications and interactive media installations. Kadiu has also taught web design and development, mobile app design and multiscreen experiences at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Digital Media from NYU Tandon, where he also earned an MBA.