Skagit Valley College
Community College, Mount Vernon, WA
In 2016 I was hired as the Digital Content Specialist at Skagit Valley College (SVC) to completely redesign the SVC’s main website, which was built upon a sixteen year-old CMS. After a eighteen month process encompassing discovery, research, design, production, and testing Skagit.edu was launched sporting a fresh new look over a highly organized, easy-to-navigate site where each page has been optimized for clarity and ease-of-use.
Skagit.edu was the result of extensive research of higher education, community college and four-year college websites and digital presence, combined with my experience in e-commerce. Implementation of best practices in UI/UX, semantics, navigation, typography, visual hierarchy and original photography created a visually compelling, easy to use website.
Overheard by SVC President, Dr. Tom Keegan to a senior administrator at SVC, during the annual Spring Celebration:
“I was talking with the President of Bellevue College, and he said they are in the process of redesigning a new website. In their research, he said, in looking at community college websites in Washington state he feels we have the best one he’s seen, and they want to model their new site after what we’ve done.”
Web pages for Skagit.edu were based on templates that could be customized to suite different departments needs and functions. In general, pages were easier to navigate due to designing page content in terms of informational chunks easily “parsed” by the eye, often with visual formatting and consistent call to action buttons. Complex informational pages like Getting Started for Returning Students was grouped into sections with obvious actions steps that made enrollment by prospective and returning students more efficient.
By chunking down the textual information into visual blocks that are just enough information to see quickly and applying a visual hierarchy to the typography each page on the site is page maximizes visitors ability to find the information they are looking for.
Skagit Valley College has 18 niche websites that offer specific content and functionality for different students, faculty and general community needs. I started the redesign of these websites in order of priority—a mix of traffic, audience, need and ease of construction—with the library site being the second most trafficked SVC site.
The SVC Library site is the second most trafficked site after Skagit.edu and the home page design was the result of user research that showed student’s and faculty’s primary intent to search for books and resources. The results is a focused, efficient layout that serves the needs of its visitors.
Website for the fundraising wing of the college, the site connects the great community and donors to raise funds for everything from scholarships to emergency funds for students in need of supplies, childcare and more so students can achieve their goals.
Functioning as a continuing education for boat owners who want to learn how to repair and maintain their boats this site highlights the calendar of classes, a how-to blog and other information for boat owners. The home page features a maritime photo that changes on a monthly basis.
The Cardinal Online
To enhance the journalism department’s reach and to all SVC campuses, and the greater community The Cardinal newspaper was put online. This meant that the journalism students could now post news and information at any time while learning how to use WordPress, but that all campuses could connect and contribute.
This website is the digital face of the non-profit community radio station which serves the Skagit County with music, news, and talk shows spotlighting the college and community at large.
Departmental Program Page V2.0
One of the keys to unlocking ease of use for… is to break content into smaller concise chunks that can be parsed easily by the viewer, and it is because of that, and the intentional heirarchy of information on skagit.edu, that the site succeeds…