Streamlining the ‘Experience:’

Streamlining the Experience:

by Allison UllmannStaff Writer

Prospective students can now catch a glimpse of the diverse aspects of Simpson life online on the new Simpson Experience Web site, which allows students to explore Simpson from hundreds of miles away.Concept to creation

The concept for the site was developed by Web Architect Missy DeYoung after attending an interactive marketing conference last fall. The ideas for the site originated from what she learned at the conference.

“One of the goals set out by the President has been to recruit more out-of-state students,” DeYoung said. “I know we have the greatest success recruiting a student if we can get them to campus, so I started formulating an idea of how we could give students that live farther away a slice of the ‘Simpson Experience’ online. I wanted to create something that would make them, at the very least, consider visiting campus.”

DeYoung attended the conference in October of 2006 and went through a bidding process in November and December. CdeVision, a company in Holyoke, Mass., started working on the site in January of 2007. In July, they delivered the site framework with content management system. DeYoung worked with her undergraduate assistant, senior Melanie Carlson, and Senior Writer Danette Griffith to fill in the site with content including pictures, text and audio.

Framing the site

“The site is entirely Flash-driven, which is a new technology for us to use,” DeYoung said. “It uses a custom content management system so we can add things or change pictures, text and audio very easily. There is also an in-depth accessible transcript for those without Flash or that may have a disability that prevents them from viewing the site through a traditional web browser.”

Drawing in prospects

Beth Peck, assistant director of Admissions, said that the new site allows prospective students to interact with the site and are now able to visually see what the “Simpson Experience” is all about.

“The site has more interactive features than our traditional Web site,” Peck said. “It relies not on telling the Simpson story with words on a page, but showing it through photographs, audio and video elements. It has a clean, contemporary design that is very focused on just showcasing the ‘Simpson Experience,’ unlike the traditional Web site which serves many internal and external audiences and is very text heavy.”

One of the goals of the site is to give prospective students a better feel for Simpson and help them visualize the “Simpson Experience.” The goal is to attract more out-of-state students and to spark their interest enough to come for an actual campus visit.

“Obviously as our geographical reach expands, [this site] is one way that we can reach those students,” Alison Swanson, director of Admissions programs said. “In Iowa, we have counselors that cover the high schools. We’re able to do that in Iowa, but we can’t go into every high school in every state. With the charge ahead of us to spread geographically, we have the option to touch a lot more students [with the site.]”

According to Peck, this goal is being reached through incorporating new technology into an interactive site, which is what prospective students are looking for.

“Students are very web savvy and do a large portion of their college searching via the web,” Peck said. “Prospective students have high expectations for Web sites today, so we have to constantly be evolving as their needs evolve. Students who live further away will weigh all of their options carefully before committing to a campus visit; hopefully this site will accomplish that goal. Once students visit campus in person, whether they are from Iowa or Florida, they see that it really is as good as it seems.”

Trying out testimonials

Sophomore Sara Crouse is featured on the new site and gives a testimonial about her own “Simpson Experience.” She was contacted by the Admissions Office to give a testimonial because she is a student ambassador and is actively involved on campus. Crouse said that the testimonials add a personal touch, and are real students talking about their own experiences, which is appealing to prospective students.

“I think that my ‘Simpson Experience’ is not only having great professors and great classes but being a part of [the campus],” Crouse said. “You’re an individual and not just a number. Professors know you by your first name and when you’re walking across campus you know a lot of the students. These close connections really help your college experience and help you grow as a student and an individual.”

Aiding Admissions

According to Swanson, this site is another tool to aid Admissions in recruiting prospective students, and will hopefully result in higher numbers of visits and out-of-state enrollment.

Peck also agreed saying that different mediums need to be used to attract more students.

“In order to have consistently successful enrollment, we need to have many different channels to reach many different types of students,” Peck said. “This is just one more way that we can show students all that Simpson has to offer in a medium that allows the student to search on their terms and their timeframe.”