Hollins University

Telling a Story By Showing It

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A gorgeous campus with stunning photography helped us modernize a website for a well-established pioneer in women's education.

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Hollins is a small university outside of Roanoke, Virginia, with a longstanding reputation as one of the country’s best women’s institutions. It has a devoted community of accomplished alumnae, and several Pulitzer Prize winners hail from its renowned writing programs.

For the people who already know Hollins, the caliber of their programs is clear. But the Hollins team wanted to make sure top-quality students were discovering those programs so they could consider investing in an education.

It wasn’t hard for us to see how great they were. We just needed to help them show it.

Research: It’s Not All About the Home Page

Research and discovery forms the foundation of each NewCity project. Our research across all the universities we work with has shown us that degree pages are some of the most important pages on the site. Prospective students often spend months researching and comparing degree programs.

Our work with Hollins showed us that the exceptional women applying to their university were a rather discerning group. They weren’t just looking for degree program information, they wanted to assess the value of the degree programs in finding a job after graduation, so we knew the content on these pages had to answer questions such as “What can this degree do for me?” and “Why should I care?”

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Revamped Design and Content for a Modern Classic

We needed to find a way to translate what we knew into a beautiful, well-structured site with modern functionality.

Early mock-ups of wireframes and designs used real, approved copy. This eliminated frustrations that come when that placeholder “lorem ipsum” text doesn’t reflect what will need to fit into the design. We also set up an account with GatherContent — a cloud storage tool where our teams could write, edit, and approve each page — to house all the new site’s content and keep content production running smoothly while we were building out the designs.

Degree pages received special treatment, with a new structure prioritizing prospective students’ main interests. Copy and testimonials emphasize career opportunities each degree might support through course content or out-of-class opportunities. We also optimized many pages to appear higher in search engine rankings. That way, Hollins gets the attention it deserves when prospective students are searching.

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If you’re thinking about using WordPress as the CMS for your website redesign, you need to ask yourself several questions to make sure this is the right solution for you. We provide CMS evaluations early in a project to avoid future headaches.