NYU.edu Redesign Communication Strategy

January - August 2016

The New York University Digital Communications Group oversaw the complete redesign of the central NYU website.

As the Digital Communications Specialist, I developed a comprehensive strategy and copy library for all internal communications in preparation for and throughout the launch of the redesign project. The primary goal was to effectively communicate so that all audiences felt aware and prepared to navigate the updated NYU.edu.

 

Target audience

There were two defined audience segments with specific goals:

Site Viewer Goals

  • Prevent surprise by generating public awareness.

  • Educate on any changes that may impact specific site viewers.

  • Promote new and existing important features.

Content Management System (CMS) User Goals

  • Make users aware of transition dates.

  • Educate on what is and is not changing in the redesign.

  • Inform how to best prepare for transition and schedule optional information sessions.

  • Illustrate how existing pages will be transitioned.

  • Identify our expectations of users during the transition.

A draft of a digital screen ad and example of title treatment, flat graphics, and color palette.

Writing the copy library and communication timeline

 

Inspired by our summer launch date, we developed a campaign theme around the "refreshment" of the website.

NYU.edu Refresh
mobile-friendly | new look | improved user experience

The overall voice and tone for redesign communications could be best described as:

  • Tempered excitement: focus most on the site being mobile-friendly

  • Matter of fact but always leaning optimistic and humorous, when appropriate

  • Confident, concise, self-assured and without embellishments

  • Specifically for CMS users - incentivizing attention and participation.

Once the strategy was approved by the project leads, I developed our key messages in varying lengths (short, medium, and full copy) that could be used interchangeably and for any audience.

 

Campaign emails were mobile responsive and reflected graphical elements from the new design.

Developing emails to notify the CMS Community

It was of vital importance to notify our CMS community that their content would change in appearance and certain CMS components would be retired or change functionality.

Email notifications began 10 weeks in advance of the launch and featured essential information, schedules of information sessions to attend, and a rotating section introducing new website components. I hand-coded each email to ensure mobile-friendliness.

The Digital Communication Group's Twitter account was also utilized to post updates, tips for how to use the new website, and behind-the-scene looks of the launch process.

 
Gifs such as one above were used across campaign messages to stand out from regular NYU communications.

Gifs such as one above were used across campaign messages to stand out from regular NYU communications.

Reaching NYU Site Viewers

Site viewers were notified using more modes of communication; two mass emails were sent to the community, and slides were displayed on the existing NYU homepage and on campus TVs. 

We took a more creative approach to our messaging in order to stand out from other university communications which often slip past viewers’ attention. Our campaign utilized gifs, flat graphics and incorporated the site's new color palette.

 

Feedback and engagement

The redesign of the NYU website relied heavily on qualitative feedback from site viewers and CMS users alike, and the successful launch of the new site did not mean feedback collection was over. In our final communication, we encouraged both audiences to submit their thoughts and suggestions so we may continue to deliver the best possible site experience.

Open and clickthrough rates

Our campaign received the highest clickthrough rates compared to regular communications sent from our department.

Site Viewer Emails:

  • Unique Opens: 52.50%

  • Unique Clickthroughs: 7.50%

CMS User Emails:

  • Unique Opens: 59.2%

  • Unique Clickthroughs: 12.99%

 

Sharing our process

In July 2018, I represented NYU at the eduWeb Digital Summit in San Diego, where I discussed the planning process behind our communication strategy for the redesign of the NYU website. We also provided participants with a communication planning guide that they can use and adapt to support their own communication efforts.

 

Browse more images from the campaign in the gallery below: