Everyone places a high priority on the user experience - the pressure is on - from clients and users alike. And we deliver.
From the very beginning, we here at Hodgson have developed websites with the end user in mind - the individual who is looking for something or to do something. The design of the site should encourage engagement while being effortless to walk through.
We spend time on the unseen things, color contrast, 508 compliance, what is common - without being boring, adding elements that don't make visitors stop and stare (if they are staring they are not doing what we or they want to do).
The user experience is a delicate balance between of many things; content, navigation, calls to action, colors, media feeds, and a whole bunch more. In today's online world the user experience is not just what is visually available, it's how it delivers the goods to the user and how the user interacts with it and converts.
We can talk endlessly about this and are happy to - set up an appointment today and we will.
The Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) was seeking a complete website redesign, including the selection and implementation of a new content management system (CMS). In particular, they required a CMS that could be easily updated by nontechnical staff, and one that would integrate well with netFORUM, their association management system. The existing website was text-heavy and light on graphics, hard to navigate, and not encouraging member / user interaction. They also wanted to maximize search engine optimization (SEO).
Hodgson applied our proven five-step process and developed a clear project plan for AJS. We met extensively with the Board and the staff, and listened to what they wanted in the redesigned website: how should it look? How should it function? What capabilities does the CMS need to offer? After carefully considering different CMS platforms, we recommended and implemented Sitefinity.
This is a CMS that could be easily maintained and edited by the AJS staff, and offered a lot of the required functionality out of the box—a news module with social media sharing, an easy way to showcase directories and other resources, an events widget with simple registration, a calendar, and minimal integration with netFORUM (reskinning) or, if they later chose, a complete integration. Our design team presented visually appealing, clean designs from which AJS selected the look they wanted. We created an organized way to present publications and research materials, making it easy for members and nonmembers to find the material they sought and, if appropriate, subscribe. We offered guidance as AJS developed content to render it search-engine friendly. The website launched in 2017 and is quickly becoming a sophisticated, information-packed resource on Jewish studies for members and the general public.
The Association for Jewish Studies is a learned society and professional organization whose mission is to advance research and teaching in Jewish Studies at colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning, and to foster greater understanding of Jewish Studies scholarship among the wider public.
The original Oceus Networks website was a text-heavy site built on the Drupal platform. The Oceus marketing team had a difficult time managing content because the Drupal administrative interface was not particularly user-friendly and intuitive.
The previous Oceus website also had a significant amount of superfluous functionality that distracted from the company’s core marketing message. For example, the old site’s e-commerce features were not particularly useful, because Oceus is primarily a Department of Defense contractor. The federal procurement process does not allow for e-commerce transactions; items must be purchased through GSA schedules.
Hodgson was contracted to design and build a modern-looking site with trimmed down content. This would allow Oceus to focus on promotion of their core products: ONmission, an end-to-end network management system for battlefield and emergency response situations; and Xiphos, a field-deployable 4G LTE tactical broadband solution.
To meet the goals above, we created a look and feel that represents a marriage of conservative DoD culture (black background in the header and chill blue) with a fresh, modern design (wide banner area with strong mission statement up front). The “top secret” nature of Oceus’s customer base and mission combined with a product that is not exciting to look at (essentially a field LTE network generator) made getting imagery for the site quite challenging.
Our creative team took photographs of the Oceus products (while turned off, to preserve security) and overlaid those images with visuals on device screen and background elements to show the products “in action.” We used abstract background images to add a sense of movement to the images.
When the design was approved, we built responsive HTML and CSS to ensure that the site would provide an excellent user experience regardless of device. Our development team implemented the new design into WordPress, which provides content management features that are simpler and more intuitive than the complex features of Drupal.
The new site went live in December of 2014 and is available for review at www.oceusnetworks.com.
Oceus Networks specializes in broadband and wireless communications solutions leveraging the latest in Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) technologies allowing them to deliver the highest value products and solutions at a reduced cost.
Their reliable and proven solutions support critical missions around the world. They deploy high-bandwidth, next generation wireless systems into austere tactical environments, first responder environments, enterprise systems for large user implementations, and discrete lab systems.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) was seeking an Ektron partner to provide a partial website redesign. They wanted the new site to be responsive; in fact, they requested that the redesign take a mobile-first approach. They wanted to ensure the redesigned site would have a unique and engaging look and feel. They also required some developer support as they implemented SOLR Search, a functionality available within Ektron.
Hodgson took a true mobile-first approach and, to appeal to the large percentage of site visitors viewing the website on mobile devices, designed the mobile version of the site before designing the desktop version. The benefit to this approach was that the mobile version concentrated on presenting the most important content. This is enormously helpful when the school was trying to pare down their content and decide what should be migrated to the mobile and desktop sites. We redesigned the home page and helped the school implement SOLR Search.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), the state’s historically black 1890 land-grant institution, has its purpose and uniqueness grounded in distinctive learning, discovery and engagement opportunities in the arts and sciences, education, technology, engineering, agriculture, business and health professions.
CSA required a complete redesign of their website. The goals for the new website were to enhance the overall member experience and value proposition, and to provide leading-edge tools that would better serve the needs of the CSA leadership and members. Hodgson began the project by recommending a new content management system (CMS) to take advantage of improved technology capabilities. As the previous site had been built on a combination of Drupal and legacy PHP code, CSA wanted a CMS that offered a lot of functionality out of the box and could streamline all content. CSA also sought a vendor who could improve the design and navigation of the website, optimize search engine results, provide better search functionality, and enhance the member and constituent experience.
Hodgson began the project by conducting interviews with CSA stakeholders and evaluating content management systems that could, potentially, provide the functionality CSA required. We determined the functional requirements of the redesigned website and matched those requirements to Drupal, Ektron and Sitefinity in an effort to determine which CMS was the most suitable. Hodgson recommended Sitefinity, which offered a high degree of scalability. It is also built on the .NET platform, which was suitable to CSA’s intended integration with MemberSuite, the association management system. In addition, it was more cost-effective than other options; it included forum and e-commerce capabilities out of the box, and it offered a “Content Personalization” add-on that would meet many of CSA’s content targeting goals. This personalization, as well as streamlining the sign-up and renewal funnel and centralizing the member portal, were some of the tools we leveraged to better serve the needs of the association’s leadership and members.
The Definitions phase began with developing a taxonomy, which included tagging content to improve search speed and to identify related content items. We created an intuitive, logical information architecture to guide the user experience. Hodgson developed wireframes and created several designs for CSA to review. Once a design was selected, we developed annotated wireframes to detail the functional requirements for each element on each template, and then created HTML files before developing Sitefinity templates and completing the implementation. Hodgson integrated with MemberSuite to provide single sign-on (SSO) functionality, allowing members to sign in and be authenticated to access not only member-based content, but individual member profile information. We ensured the website was responsive and tested it thoroughly before training CSA staff on Sitefinity and launching the site.
The California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) is comprised of nearly 4,000 anesthesiologists who practice in the state of California. CSA’s mission is to promote the highest standards for the anesthesiology profession, to foster excellence through continuing medical education, and to serve as an advocate for anesthesiologists and their patients.
In 2014, The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) initiated a multi-phase project to revitalize their entire web presence, which was built
on the Ektron platform. ASCE needed a website that would provide an optimal visitor experience; be flexible and extensible; be fully responsive to smartphones and tablets; and support the organization in achieving their important goals—technological advancement, lifelong learning, professional development, civil engineering leadership, and infrastructure and environmental stewardship.
After the design phase of their project had begun,
ASCE sought a web development partner with extensive Ektron experience and a track record of success in integrating content management systems with member database software (e.g., Personify, which is the system utilized by ASCE) to perform the technical heavy lifting in the project. At that point, ASCE had already been working with a design and strategy partner to conceive a new user interface, navigation, and content for all ASCE web properties.
ASCE selected Hodgson to build out their web properties in Ektron 9 and to integrate Ektron with all their third party systems. The project kicked off with a review of existing documentation and requirements created by ASCE’s design partner, including responsive HTML and CSS templates. Hodgson’s Ektron development team built out Ektron templates, including Smart Form and PageBuilder templates, and they set up taxonomies within Ektron to relate content within Ektron to a number of external databases. The project also included implementation of an advanced, faceted search using Ektron’s Solr-based search technology.
As is often the case in large, complex projects of this type, the functional requirements evolved even after development had already begun. Early in the project, Hodgson developers had the forethought to create an effective framework for serializing and deserializing smart form data, which allowed them to build all importing, sorting, and filtering of Personify and Ektron data well in advance. This effort proved invaluable late in the project, when requirements were finalized with the go-live date imminent.
Throughout the project, the Hodgson team worked with ASCE programmers to integrate Ektron templates with various existing technologies, including e-commerce applications, the Personify association management system, and other ASCE web properties. The result was a successful collaborative effort that produced a modern, user friendly website that leverages the power and flexibility of the Ektron platform.
The main ASCE website (www.asce.org), ASCE Foundation website (www.ascefoundation.org), and other sites are currently live. Hodgson’s Webmaster Services has been engaged to provide ongoing maintenance and support.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 145,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 174 countries. Founded in 1852, ASCE is the nation’s oldest engineering society. ASCE stands at the forefront of a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine—the built environment—while protecting and restoring the natural environment.
The University of Pittsburgh Johnstown contracted Hodgson to redesign their website (www.upj.pitt.edu) and implement a new content management system (CMS). Pitt-Johnstown was interested in working with an experienced team with an in-depth understanding of the web and extensive experience in combining CMS technology with interactive, user-focused graphic designs.
The primary goal of the project was to maximize the effectiveness of the Pitt-Johnstown website in communicating with all of the University’s target audiences: current students, future students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the community. A successful website would need to provide an intuitive navigation that would make content easily accessible on smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops alike.
In order to build the modern, engaging web presence that Pitt-Johnstown needed, Hodgson implemented the EPiServer content management system, which was selected because of its streamlined content management capabilities, its intuitive authoring environment, and the robust ASP.NET platform on which it is built. The advanced content personalization features and strong e-commerce capabilities of EPiServer were also key factors in selection of this system.
The project began with a thorough web strategy and definitions process aimed at evaluating the content, functionality, and information architecture of the existing site. With a new information architecture and wireframes in place, Hodgson’s creative team was able to design a new vision for the Pitt-Johnstown website that accurately represented the University’s unique strengths, as well as the value of their educational offerings.
Once the creative process was complete, Hodgson's user experience developers built out the designs into fully responsive HTML and CSS templates, which allow users to enjoy a browsing experience tailored to mobile devices and well as traditional desktop computers. These templates were then implemented into EPiServer by Hodgson’s .NET developers, who also built out all the features of the site according to functional specifications. After testing and training were conducted successfully, Hodgson’s team handed over the site to Pitt-Johnstown’s technical personnel for live launch.One of the key components of the new website is its capacity for content personalization. Site visitors may self-identify as one of five different audience segments; this selection has a direct impact on the types of content that are highlighted on the homepage, in sidebar callouts, and throughout the user journey. The new site also includes dynamic feeds from Pitt-Johnstown’s social media outlets; a site search; events calendar functionality; a faculty and staff directory; and many other features.
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (Pitt-Johnstown) was founded in 1927, and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Located 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, Pitt-Johnstown is a vital knowledge center providing a high quality educational experience that is purposefully designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. The University offers a supportive living-learning environment that is grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, is current, and is responsive to the personal and professional needs of students and Pitt-Johnstown’s constituent communities.
The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) contracted Hodgson to undertake a comprehensive update of their web presence, which included a complete visual and user experience redesign along with the implementation of a new Content Management System (CMS). In addition, NAPEO was looking to integrate their existing Association Management System (AMS), MemberSuite, for a more streamlined member experience. NAPEO also needed to develop a solution to manage both traditional and online publications for members and non-members alike.
With a large portion of the NAPEO user base utilizing a variety of devices to access the website tools and publications, NAPEO required a strategy to ensure all devices provided an outstanding user experience regardless of screen size. Finally, all of these goals needed to serve two separate and distinct audiences: the public and NAPEO members.
One of the first critical choices was selecting a CMS that would best fit NAPEO’s needs. After considering a number of potential options, Hodgson recommended, and implemented, Sitefinity. This CMS provided NAPEO with standardized page templates, robust site search, workflow, SEO tools and enhancements and the ability to integrate with the MemberSuite API.
Through significant discussion and research, Hodgson determined that by developing a custom publications module, NAPEO could manage all activities related to their publications through Sitefinity. This included allowing members additional access to archived publications and articles, based on membership levels, incorporating a federated search, and allowing NAPEO content provides an intuitive way to add and edit article and publication content.
Hodgson integrated with the AMS to provide single sign-on (SSO) functionality, allowing members to sign in and authenticated against MemberSuite to access not only member based content, but individual member profile information.
The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) is The Voice of the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Industry™. A PEO provides comprehensive human resources (HR) solutions for small and mid-size businesses that include payroll, benefits, HR, tax administration, and regulatory compliance assistance.
Hodgson first became involved with Front Range Community College (FRCC) (www.frontrange.edu) when they were selecting a new content management system (CMS) for their site. At that time, we arranged demonstrations of Sitefinity for FRCC stakeholders, and we set up sandbox environments to allow FRCC’s development team to evaluate the features of the CMS through a fully hosted trial installation.
After FRCC’s web team had settled on Sitefinity as their new CMS of choice, they engaged Hodgson to design and build an innovative site that would offer their users an intuitive, personalized experience. We began the project by working with FRCC’s internal team to define the functional and business goals for the new site. With the requirements in hand, Hodgson’s designers were able to craft an entirely new look and feel for the FRCC website.
The updated design features prominent, red call-to-action buttons characterized by the “torn” effect prominent in FRCC’s print marketing materials. The dropdown menus in the main navigation are designed to draw the user further into the site and to encourage exploration (the featured images liven up these menus as well). Furthermore, the grid layout of the homepage and landing pages (e.g., www.frontrange.edu/getting-in) gives the site a very clean, balanced feel. It also allows users to easily find the content they seek, as it is presented in clear, discrete blocks throughout the site.
As part of the creative process, Hodgson’s project team conducted usability testing on designs to ensure that the finished product would conform to usability best practices. One key element of usability is the “breaking from tradition” approach to the main navigation. Often, higher education sites use a standard menu that includes “Academics,” “Admissions,” and “Student Life.” Instead of staying with established conventions, the FRCC team had based the new navigation primarily on the timing of the prospective student’s engagement with the College. During usability testing, we found that the new menu concepts created by FRCC were very clear and intuitive, and that an eye-appealing dropdown menu would draw a visitor deeper into the site.
Another important feature of the site is its capacity to provide a personalized experience to students, parents, and faculty based on which of the four campuses a visitor was associated with. By making a campus selection, a user has a personalized experience on nearly 40% of the site’s pages.
Incorporating the blog into the website was also a priority for FRCC, as they had an extensive collection of blog posts, contributed by both students and faculty. As WordPress blog posts are imported into the site, tags and categories are assigned to each post. Throughout the website, the blog widget is filtered to display posts specific to the content on the page, providing a greater amount of relevant information for the site visitor.
In addition to the elements discussed above, Hodgson’s developers built other useful features into the site: custom .NET controls to filter and display calendar events; campus alerts and emergency notification functionality; a searchable, sortable faculty and staff directory integrated with Active Directory; and IntelliResponse search results with a “Top 5 Questions” widget, which displays questions relevant to content on the page.
Front Range Community College (FRCC) is a two-year institution of higher learning with campuses in Westminster, Colorado; Longmont, Colorado; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Brighton, Colorado. It is the largest community college in Colorado and the number one transfer institution for the University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado State University, and Metropolitan State University of Denver.