Norwich University

OHO redesigned the new Norwich University site onto Drupal 7 and on Acquia's cloud environment.

Norwich University was a 2013 Blue Drop Awards finalist for Best Education Website Built With Drupal.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

Drupal was chosen for it's flexibility, openness and scalability. Norwich Communications personnel wanted the ability to change nearly everything on the site (including text on images, video captions, etc.) as new programs are created and new marketing initiatives started. As an Enterprise Select Partner with Acquia, OHO also took advantage of the many Drupal deployment and support options that they provide, including load testing, performance and site audits, instant access to tools such as Mollom, unlimited instances for Dev, QA, Staging, production etc.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

The Situation

Norwich University launched an online graduate school in 2000. The program was successful and profitable, but it was facing increasing competition from “name brand” schools. The online school needed to expand its audience outside military and government agencies and appeal to a wider audience. The Norwich online team was looking to increase brand awareness, grow online enrollments and cultivate life-long learners; they knew that they would need a comprehensive effort to better understand the market and their opportunity to take advantage of the growing online marketplace. In addition, they knew that they would need greater flexibility and operational efficiency through a v7 Drupal imlementation, and access across the spectrum of platforms and devices.

• To support marketing efforts and increase lead conversions though a unified visitor experience across the site and landing pages
• To enhance SGCS ’s brand and image through a more contemporary appearance, leveraging modern web techniques and Best Practices
• To implement a next generation CMS that can support the needs of non-technical content editors

The Solution

OHO began the engagement with a comprehensive national-wide branding study to understand the behaviors and attitudes of adult learners as they make decisions about selecting a masters degree program. OHO also focused on the key issue of how to properly position Norwich’s military heritage so as to turn this potential liability into a benefit. By means of comprehensive focus groups with students, prospects, and cold prospects, OHO learned that the military heritage was generally a positive attribute, but the biggest misconception about the institution was that graduate students would be required to serve in a military branch after graduation. This false assumption turned many off from the school. Armed with this information

Based on 2-months of research, OHO was engaged to develop a new site architecture, visual design, and content that paid homage to the 200-history of Norwich and accurately reflected the cutting-edge programs. But, this was not just a branding and positioning engagement. The research also revealed that prospective students need some key information to make a decision to apply. Armed with this knowledge, OHO merged action items and “brass tack” details to turn the website into a lead generation tool. Our solutions included:

• In-depth program description pages– that included details such as course of study, start date, faculty profiles, credit costs
• Impact and outcomes– prospects need to know what the ROI of their investment will be – so we created a main section called “Norwich Impact” producing video content, testimonials and short alumni results in “NU Results”
• Calls to action– prospects want to engage in multiple ways – chat, phone, e-mail – and with a clear point of contact. Action buttons are part of the main navigation as well as being contextually located.
• Quality of faculty – students wanted to understand the quality of the professors so we developed in-depth faculty videos and highlighted the high-number of faculty with terminal degrees
The site was implemented on Acquia's enterprise-class cloud infrastrcuture with 24x7 support and Drupal management and optimization.

The Results

The results have been immediate. With less than 2 months live the site has generated:

• Over 300 request info submissions made directly through the site
• An average visit time of 4:04 minutes (about double the industry standard)
• A very low bounce rate of 34.5%
The recruitment team has seen a huge bump in recruitment inquiries and in leveraging the new brand assets across the lead generation properties.

Finally, the internal response has been overwhelming. The Dean recently commented: “Do you know how nice it is to travel and actually have something show trustees and other folks I’m meeting with? The new Website and new collateral are great!” And the university is looking improve the undergraduate website as well with many people asking – “How come the undergraduate website can’t look like this?”

Modules/Themes/Distributions
Key modules/theme/distribution used: 
Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

Domain Access - Norwich wanted to have a separate sub-sites and urls for campus tours and "Accolades", but still managed within a single administrative interface.

Modernizer - with responsive designs drop-downs and hovers can either behave erroneously or not work at all on touch devices. Using Modernizer we checked for touch events and turn hover events to clicks/taps.

Webform - we created a semi-automated landing page generation capability, whereby admins cancreate a new landing page for marketing campaigns using a simple form. These forms were also simultaneously sent via API to a third-party marketing company (Embanet) which manages the lead process.