WHY A STANFORD UNIVERSITY INSTRUCTOR CHOSE VAB MEDIA TO HELP HER PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Nada Miljkovic, is a Stanford University instructor, who contacted Vab Media to design and develop a website for The Stanford Pre-Collegiate International Institutes program, which is teaching courses covering introductions to storytelling, entrepreneurship and blogging. Sue Carter, director of UCSC’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development, who has worked with Silicon Valley startup guru and Stanford University instructor Steve Blank, has partnered with her to co-teach these courses. The website is going to have an educational content section on all things related to startups, customer discovery, researching product and market fit, learning to pivot and reiterate their business idea based on what they learn from interviewing potential customers.
Stanford University instructors’ Business Goals:
- Needed a website built on a platform that has the right combination of flexibility, extensibility, performance, and ease of use to support their mission of education
- To have the design of the site have a similar look and feel as distinguished as the reputation of the school’s other web properties
- They needed a content management system that gave multiple student users the ability to create content and publish
- To take advantage of using multi-media, internet technologies to teach students’ storytelling.
WHAT WE DID
Google has put a huge focus on mobile optimization. Since mobile search surpassed desktop search last year, and responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.
Vab Media chose to develop a responsive website on the WordPress platform, a platform, we regularly use and which powers over 50% of the top million sites on the web, including a multitude of higher education websites. As a Content Management System (CMS), it handles all of the unique challenges of higher ed institutions with grace and ease.
Nada needed to have students from different sessions during the summer to post content to one specific section. We figured out that by setting up different custom post types, we could assign posts from each session to show up on one page. Setting up custom post types was easy with Custom Post Type UI. Also, since we needed something easy to set up a layout for the posts to appear, Nada purchased Custom Post Type UI Extended. This is an out of the box layout generator that allows you to select the custom posts you want to show on a page.
By using Custom post types, Nada was able to set up different post content areas to show posts made by each of the students within each country’s summer session at Stanford.
We were able to create a unique content creation strategy and permissions-based solution that enabled each student to be both the creator and ‘owner’ of their content, so that it is clustered together in a way that was easy for users, but also could share that content with the rest of the organization where it was appropriate. We integrated the Visual Composer which creates individual content blocks in different layouts, populated manually or by editor-defined queries. This gives the students the ability to include a wide range of content types from fancy boxes, video, articles, quotes into their posts. We also trained her on how to use internal linking of posts to build a theme that search engines view as having topic relevance for her website’s content.
WHAT WE ACHIEVED
Responsive Design One Site Fits All Device Types
We designed a responsive website to allow students to deliver narrative driven content to their core audience of researchers, students and university mentors in an immersive, lean-back user experience.
Discoverability and rich content is fundamental to a powerful digital experience. Obviously, any student that is attending Stanford University is probably tech savvy, but we used the WordPress CMS administrative interface, along with helpful tutorial videos, to reduce the training overhead time while onboarding new users, which increased the rate of system-wide WordPress adoption throughout the institution.
We enabled them with the ability to eventually create article collections, portfolios and instantiated a related articles plugin algorithm. This resulted in handing off a system where the client knew how things were structured and worked because the client was right alongside us every step of the way.