Exploring Design and Development

In one of our previous posts, we made note that mStoner had presented design concepts that would become the new look of Wilkes.edu. In today’s post, we’d like to tell you more about how the design came to be and what the development process looked like from start to finish.

The process of designing a new site takes a lot of brainstorming and research. Before imagery can be chosen or layouts can be crafted, the architecture of the site has to be examined so that everyone working on the project understands how users use and navigate the website.

Partnering with mStoner provided us the opportunity to take a user-centric approach. We collaborated with their design and user experience experts on developing a new site framework that could help users find the content they need with clear calls to action.

Then, using analytics and user research we gathered during the discovery phase of the project, we turned things over to the mStoner team where their designers engaged in creative workshops. Working as a team, mStoner developed creative feature ideas, navigation maps, page layouts, and key messages for the site.

Once that work was completed, mStoner presented our Marketing Communications team with the wireframes and content models needed for a new Wilkes.edu to take shape. Then, the fun started!

Conceptual creative is where visual design and user interface decisions start to take shape. In this phase of the project, mStoner presented our team with distinctive design concepts that aligned with our brand and our goals for the new site. While we loved both concepts, we had to narrow things down and provided mStoner with feedback on the features we felt best matched our needs and the visual styles that fit best with our brand vision. The end result? A beautiful custom design that was ready for front-end development.

Front-end development is the next stage of the redesign project after design and it involves converting the design system into hand-crafted HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The code mStoner developed was optimized for speed and accessibility in addition to being compatible with our content management system, Omni CMS.

With our new website freshly coded, it was time to test and implement. This is by far the most technical phase of the project so we brought in the team at Omni CMS, Modern Campus, to work with us on ensuring our new design would not only look great in our CMS but function as it should.

This portion of the redesign was a major undertaking for our team. Over several months of project calls, Marketing Communications, mStoner, and the Modern Campus team worked together to find bugs, make code updates, migrate pages from our old design to our new design, and build out the essential elements of the new Wilkes.edu. We also explored the new features that were developed for us as part of this project (which we can’t wait to show our content editors!).

Now, we’re at the finish line but there’s still quite a bit of work to be done!

It’s important to note that migrating an existing site to a new design is a major undertaking, involving the coordination of thousands of pages of content, documents, images, and files. No transition is ever perfect and there will always be challenges. Marketing Communications is committed to addressing any post-launch issues and correcting any errors that arise in the transition.

Questions or comments regarding the redesign may be directed to:

Brittany Terpstra
Associate Director of Web Services
brittany.terpstra@wilkes.edu

Kim Bower-Spence
Executive Director of Marketing
kimberly.bowerspence@wilkes.edu