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University of Northern British Columbia

Building a modern web portal that facilitates engagement between faculty, students, and prospects.

Awarded the top Canadian undergraduate university of its size in 2015 by the prestigious Maclean’s University Rankings, The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) is located in a spectacular landscape in the City of Prince George, British Columbia.

www.unbc.ca - With a student body of over 4000, the university provides both undergraduate and graduate programs that explore cultures, health, economies and the environment. As a research-intensive learning hub, the university is focused on sharing its teaching and research outcomes with students and the world.

With the overall objectives of increasing its visibility, number of student applications, ability to increase and promote its research outcomes, and operational efficiencies, UNBC was looking for an open source Web Content Management System (WCMS) to help reach its goals.

Objectives

The university was using a variety of web page creation tools including a proprietary, 10-year old platform and an ineffective workflow system to manage their web properties. The overall system was cumbersome for administrators to use and did not allow for a super user to oversee all of the content. It was difficult to update and manage. Site wide changes to content such as branding or footer information needed to be updated on an individual basis.

Little attention had been paid to the end user. It did not address the changes in web technology that had become critical in attracting and engaging the type and quality of site visitors that the university was seeking. It had been designed for desktop computers before accessing information on mobile devices became ubiquitous, and there was little accommodation for the visually handicapped.

With the purpose of driving up admission numbers and operational efficiencies, UNBC was interested in using an open source WCMS, such as Drupal, that could handle their current and future requirements while assisting with the business and administrative goals.  

Goals

  • Install and configure a Drupal 7 platform that consolidates all existing and planned web pages, regardless of the source page’s creation tool
  • Upgrade and integrate existing Drupal 7 websites into the new platform
  • Implement a shared solution that provides a simplified and intuitive workflow solution, allowing authors and content creators of various abilities and permissions to effectively collaborate
  • Ensure the new website supports custom metadata to improve search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Build a fully responsive solution that reconfigures itself for mobile, tablet and desktop devices, allowing site users to efficiently access the site, regardless of device
  • Create a user friendly and accessible solution, compliant to WCAG “AA” standards
  • Assist with migrating content from various web entities into the new website
  • Increase number of student applications to the university by utilizing various engagement techniques including improved user experience and SEO techniques
  • Utilize the university’s branding and “look and feel” throughout.

Solution

UNBC’s web platform was configured using Drupal 7 and uses the new “look and feel” provided by the university. The platform allows various levels of login permissions for site administrators, content contributors and authors.

The new website was built to provide a streamlined user experience, adapting seamlessly for devices and integrating legacy information. User profiling has provided more targeted information for students interested in the university’s programs, entrance requirements and admissions procedures.

Additional functionality including website user reporting was created to allow the university to better and more deeply understand the website audience needs and interests. Various SEO tools were also added to allow better targeting of site information to the desired site visitors.

Results

Improved operational efficiencies have been realized. The various levels of site administrators are now easily and intuitively able to add, delete and modify content to suit their specific audience needs. A single site administrator is able to oversee and make global updates to the entire website, including branding elements, calls-to-action and the other global information fields.

The more than two-fold increase in student applications, attributed largely by the improvements to the website, has exceeded the university’s expectations. The increase has provided the university with higher calibre students, increased visibility and a better ability to promote research outcomes.

I would highly recommend OPIN. They are an impressive and passionate group, led by an extremely hard-working CEO. The time and consideration they have invested in UNBC’s web project exemplifies their commitment to seeing all of their projects reach a successful conclusion.
Alyson Gourley-Cramer Manager Of Media Relations And Communications, UNBC

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