UT College of Liberal Arts

The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin is the largest college with over 10,000 students and 800 faculty. The online presence of the College includes the main college website of the Dean’s office and 95 separate sites for the departments, centers, and research programs.

In the spring of 2020 I was hired to help evaluate the College’s websites and help develop a content strategy that would promote the liberal arts at UT, demonstrate the excellence in teaching and research of the College’s faculty, and show how a liberal arts education can lead to positive and flexible career outcomes for students of all majors. We also wanted the redesign sites to separate the promotional and marketing information from the business-related information. The content for external audiences separate from the content for the internal audiences of current students, faculty, and staff.

The information architecture of the main site was based on the internal office structure of the Dean’s Office. While the office structure made sense to the current staff and made content administration easier to manage, the structure was not intuitive to the web audience and made finding information and navigating the site very confusing for first-time visitors.

Beyond the content updates and info architecture and refreshing the interface the other main goal of the redesign was to move the site management to a new CMS. Cascade, the old CMS was a propriety system that involved multiple steps to publish a page and required training for all use. New CMS features

Since the redesign was big, we divided it into three phases. The first phase was a redesign of the main website homepage. The second phase was the redesign and manual transfer of content for the main website. We did this because it was a subset of the content and we had more direct control over the website. We used a small team of student workers to copy and paste the old pages to the new pages. We also created a wiki as an intranet in order to move the business related information to a separate site. Once we had the main site set up and the content transferred to the new CMS we trained the staff to use the new CMS. For the final step we needed to move the content for 95 sites from Cascade to the new CMS. We built a migration tool to move the page content to a series of blocks in the new CMS. While that got the information to the new CMS, our student workers then went through each site to clean up the content and design the sites with the new tools. The sites were then reviewed and approved by each unit before we launched them all. After training, the unit content admins were able to spend time updating the content, redesigning their sites, and adding new photos and info where appropriate.

The new sites and the new CMS are now in use across the college. Since they were developed in-house we are able to make adjustments as necessary and develop a development schedule for new versions and upgrades on a regular interval.

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