Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is led by a Governor-appointed board and provides leadership, advocacy, and coordination for Washington’s system of 34 public community and technical colleges. Each year, nearly 400,000 students train for the workforce, prepare to transfer to a university, gain basic math and English skills, or pursue continuing education. The system tagline – “Better Jobs, Brighter Futures, a Stronger Washington” – reflects the colleges’ role in transforming lives and fueling the economy. SBCTC sets policy, allocates state operating and capital funds to the colleges, strategically plans the two-year college mission, and approves educational programs.

This project began in the Spring of 2014 and engaged almost the entire High Monkey team at various points throughout the project’s 18-month lifespan.  For this project, High Monkey was asked to provide guidance during a process of evaluating and selecting a Content Management System for SBCTC as well as completing tasks that engaged almost every aspect of High Monkey’s expertise throughout the project.

The New SBCTC site was awarded with the gold medal at the 2016 National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) District 7 Medallion awards in the overall website category.

project type

Public Website

visit the site

www.sbctc.edu

services

  • Information Architecture
  • Content Management & Strategy
  • Design
  • User Experience
  • Web
  • Usability
  • Public

challenges

  • SBCTC needed to take their old environment, which was made up of 2 separate sites – (CheckOutACollege.com and SBCTC.EDU) and merge the two into one user-centered, easy to use, website that delivered a consistent message about the value of community and technical colleges for students and the State of Washington.
  • The content for the two sites created a challenge that lasted the duration of this project. There was a great deal of information between the two sites that was out of date or was of little interest to the website visitors.
  • The need for responsive design was also an important aspect to this project. With metrics showing that more individuals were accessing the web via mobile devices, it was very clear to SBCTC that the website would need to be mobile responsive.
  • The SBCTC websites needed design and branding ‘refreshes’ that would be in alignment with and support the overall navigation and structure of the websites.
  • In keeping with the priority of a ‘user-centered’ website, SBCTC also wanted usability testing to gain feedback from students and other key audiences that regularly visit the SBCTC websites.
  • SBCTC needed to identify and select an appropriate Content Management System.  SBCTC wanted an outside vendor to objectively evaluate their current CMS and content management requirements, and to make recommendations for either an upgrade of the existing CMS or the purchase of a new CMS.
  • One other priority for SBCTC was the need to self-manage the site after launch with minimal assistance from an outside vendor.

solution

  • One of the first steps High Monkey needed to consider for this project was the content on the current websites. In our previous experience working with organizations with content in the multi-thousand pages, it was a priority to evaluate the content currently published on the SBCTC websites to ensure it was up to date, as well as information that website visitors were actually looking for.  This was done by facilitating multiple discovery sessions with SBCTC staff as well as actual users (representative audiences) of the two sites.
  • After determining which content was either old or provided little benefit for website visitors, we identified what information visitors to the sites were looking for.  This content was validated for relevance and grouped logical in categories by website visitors via an open and closed card sorting process.
  • The knowledge gained during the requirements process and card sorts provided the core of the Information Architecture that High Monkey created that defined the organization and structure of content on the site based on its priority and ‘findability’ for visitors to the site.
  • High Monkey created wireframes for multiple website pages that provided a visual representation of page layouts, content areas, and navigation structure.
  • High Monkey followed an iterative design process to first create three design prototypes that were subsequently refined based on feedback from the SBCTC team into a final design.
  • During the design process, usability testing was conducted with multiple audience members identified by SBCTC to provide validation of the Information Architecture and an opportunity for the High Monkey team to ‘tweak’ the final design prior to the build out of the websites.
  • High Monkey worked with the SBCTC team to plan a content review and migration process that allowed the SBCTC team to begin the process well ahead of the design and build steps in the project.  This allowed the SBCTC team to work on content related project tasks so that their content was in a ‘ready’ state when the websites moved into the ‘build-out’ stage.
  • High Monkey led the process in working with SBCTC to evaluate multiple Content Management Systems and we helped them to determine which one would work best for this redesign. The SBCTC team selected OUCampus. 
  • The High Monkey team worked closely with the SBCTC team and coordinated with OUCampus to conducted the CMS implementation and the website build. 
  • The website build process started with High Monkey created a ‘build book’ that defined all the functional design and specifications for the SBCTC websites.  The build book was also used for the functional testing.
  • The build out process for the websites included the creation of landing pages, layout and sub-layout templates, and iterative functional testing throughout the build process.
  • High Monkey created editable templates in which the team at SBCTC could add in their content and the content would be dynamically rendered based on the screen size (laptop or handheld / mobile device) from which the user was accessing the website.
  • As part of the plan to create a self-reliant team at SBCTC, High Monkey created detailed website build documentation, as well as CMS Administrator and CMS Content Editor documentation for the SBCTC team.  Underpinning this effort, High Monkey provided a site structure that made sense as well as templates that the SBCTC team could effectively manage.
  • To ensure the success of the SBCTC team during and following the launch of the websites, High Monkey’s consultants conducted several knowledge transfer sessions on maintaining and working with the CMS and the build specifications for the websites.
  • High Monkey implemented a calendar piece using Trumba to add the ability to filter, add events to one’s calendar, send email reminders, as well as the ability to see all calendar events for 2 months out in a single glance.


The Washington State Board for Community and Technical colleges) received an award for their most recent website redesign. SBCTC received the gold in the 2016 National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) District 7 Medallion awards in the overall website category! The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations is the leading professional development organization serving two-year college communicators. The medallion award is the only regional competition of its kind that honors excellence exclusively among marketing and PR Professionals at two-year colleges.