President, Fayetteville Tech Dr. Larry Keen
“Walk West has truly transformed our digital properties, and brought an unmatched experience to our educational community. Fayetteville Tech is a large institution, and we lead our state forward on many initiatives. We found a like-minded partner in Walk West who challenged the status quo – something we do here everyday.”
Fayetteville Tech is one of the three largest community and technical schools in North Carolina and offers hundreds of degree programs and certifications at its physical campus in Fayetteville and across the globe online. With such a large course catalog, Fayetteville Tech’s digital presence suffered the same friction as many large institutions of higher learning. Their primary navigation was fraught with options (84 in all) that treated every program and department as equals. Further, each of their user personas required independent treatment, but were all treated the same. The needs of current students were distinct from prospective students, parents, guests, and active duty military. The website for Fayetteville Tech was in need of transformation and the administration at the college chose Walk West.
Uncovering A New Navigational Methodology
Walk West engineered a completely refocused web presence that catered specifically to Fayetteville Tech’s primary audience segment, confirmed by our Strategy & Discovery phase. Throughout our research, we found the process involved with finding content was filled with friction. Their top level navigation contained an astounding 84 unique links. We broke down and analyzed each of those 84 destination pages and placed them into four brackets. The first bracket represented pages that were in the top 25 most visited content (ranked by normalized session share). The second represented pages ranked 26-50, the third 51 – 100, and the fourth 101+.
We found that only 16 of the 84 pages in the top level navigation were inside the website’s top 25, 10 were in bracket 2, 15 in bracket 3, and 35 in bracket 4 (with 8 having no data). Upon further analysis, we found that 92% of all of the website’s traffic went to bracket 1 destinations, while only 60% of the top 25 were represented in the primary navigation.
The conclusion was straightforward: the website’s navigation was in immediate need of simplification. The administration at Fayetteville Tech happily took our recommendations, backed by data, to simplify that navigation down to 5 – a tall ask that required the consent of the President of the college.
Progressive Navigation Leads To Smart Design
It wasn’t surprising that Fayetteville Tech had user segments with completely distinct needs. All universities and colleges face the same challenge that a one-size-fits-all approach is an approach that fits no one. Walk West engineered a smart navigational strategy that minimizes friction by learning which of the user segments a particular user belongs. Once our unique pattern matching technology could confidently understand which type of user you were, the navigation would automatically expand offering additional primary navigation links to pages and resources that segment needed most. This allowed us to use smart technology to curate content to our users without interruption or unnecessary friction. The results were amazing and instant, resulting in an 85% increase in pages per session and a 73% reduction in bounce rates.
Engineering a Persona Gate
A radical new concept that Walk West deployed was the idea of a “persona gate”. This was something our team had a high degree of confidence in fueling the Fayetteville Tech website forward while offering a more robust experience for their users. We started with a simple question: where do you want to go? that lent credence to the idea that Fayetteville Tech is a road full of transformation. The user would complete the sentence with smart suggestions: I am _____ looking for ______. Having the user self identify as active duty military, reservist, current high school student, recent high school student, working parent, or mid career allowed our team to curate a list of options in the second part of that sentence. Upon completing the interactive, the user would find themselves on a completely curated and contextually relevant content journey that applied explicitly to them. Plus, this data fueled our Progressive Navigation to continually build upon that user’s profile. A digital experience is all about content relevancy and we built an entire ecosystem to maximize that experience.
Founder, Walk West Brian Onorio
“Our team fused data-driven business insights with in-depth knowledge about higher education to develop and design a robust digital platform for our client. We have thrown away the old playbook for how to put together a website for higher education, and created a radically new platform for growth for Fayetteville Tech.”
Unlocking the Magician
Walk West performed extensive work in helping Fayetteville Tech discover its brand voice along with the technology we engineered. We started by describing the college as the Everyman archetype (an archetype is a “character” with traits that apply to a company, organization, or business). Fayetteville Tech Community College relates to everyday, hardworking men and women. Their students want to quickly gain skills to make an honest living and provide for themselves and their families. Fayetteville Tech can also be viewed as a catalyst for transformation. The college helps realize a vision and achieve it, eliminating any unnecessary roadblocks along the way. However, each trade or technical school could be described as the Everyman, so we went deeper to find a fusion that uniquely described Fayetteville Tech and the institution is best described in a unique combination of the Everyman and Magician archetype.
We found that the college was a healthy mix of these two archetypes. The fusion of these two personalities uniquely described Fayetteville Tech and its impact to the community.