Campus Philly redesign and editorial strategy case study 1.23.12 0
by in Case Study

Campus Philly is a small, regional nonprofit dedicated to a mission of attracting, engaging and retaining college graduates to the Philadelphia area.

Their mission rocks; they host popular events and lead interesting research.

Yet, in summer 2011, even they said their website sucked, and they had no clear strategy about what to do with it anyway.

Their platform was a dated, proprietary Lotus framework, their editorial interns had little focus for their content and the organization’s social strategy wasn’t much more than an afterthought from a busy staff.

Our job was to get their web strategy a little bit closer to the expectations set for an otherwise interesting and meaningful group that is the envy of graduate-retention program throughout the country. In six months time, from June to December, Technically Media did just that, by focusing on three clear efforts:

  1. Create information architecture, develop user experience and lift a new homepage — The focus here was to look clean, simple and be incredibly easy and accessible for a staff with no full-time tech or web staff.
  2. Create clear editorial strategy for the web and social space — The focus here was to use the existing workflow of a small staff to have the biggest impact and to begin follow the norms of the online world to welcome more traffic, links and attention.
  3. Offer basic workforce development for the basic staff skills necessary to support the first two goals — Though entire degrees are based on the concepts, we offered a slew of bootcamps for Campus Philly staff around its platform management, web basics and many content creation topics. Much more is needed here, but the level of staff savvy went through an impressive upgrade in a half year’s time.


  • Whizbang web solutions are not good recommendations for small staffs — Campus Philly needed a simple solution that its staff could largely run autonomously, so, after some deeper analysis, we recommended a WordPress solution and custom theme, designed by staff.
  • Highlight staff assets and use them — Campus Philly had a great on-site designer who was fun to work with, passionate about the project and already had designed the look of the site. Rather than start from scratch, we welcomed her direction, worked with her to think more functionally about user experience and its relationship to existing WordPress structure. We offered further development assistant and partnered with a third-party firm to turn the design into a WordPress theme, continuing to focus it to Campus Philly workflow.
  • Look for cost-cutting measures — Most often, organizations are underinvesting in IT and web architecture, but still, there are sometimes ways that organizations could cut costs, in ways like hosting, processes, third-party work and more. We found some in this project and were able to make our costs seem increasingly sensible.
  • Focus and look to the future — Campus Philly also had a career site and other projects it had interest in moving forward. Rather than taking on too much or losing focus, we called to stay on point for our three clear objectives, noting that we can move on to other projects if there’s interest there.
  • Facebook Comments ease nerves — There remains a lot of concern about authentication of comments. Though not perfect, implementing Facebook-based comments is of great interest to many partners.
  • Happy staff make work easier — When we look for projects to accept, a priority of ours is a work environment that seems welcoming. Campus Philly was a small staff, but they were excited by their mission and genuinely interested in the project and the organization’s future. That made the project a much more meaningful and enjoyable one.

Some Results:

  • Old: temperamental, dated, cluttered and ugly site
  • New: dependable, secure, clean and fresh-looking site
  • Old: Required third-party development for any additional features
  • New: Supported by rich open-source WordPress community
  • Old: No staff with wide-ranging ability to impact website structure
  • New: Deeper, more flexible staff understanding of WordPress structure to website
  • Old: No search, available archives or welcoming SEO taxonomy
  • New: Standard search, a decade of archives and WordPress SEO-friendly URL structure
  • Old: No clear editorial strategy.
  • New: Developed staff and intern goals, editorial calendar and content basics.
  • Old: No social workflow.
  • New: Clear strategy for sharing and developing greater social audience.
  • Old: No basic staff understanding of content basics.
  • New: Documentation and bootcamps offering foundation for content creation.
  • Old: No clear place for support, direction and education
  • New: Ample documentation offered, in addition to clear open-source community for development and content lessons.
Christopher Wink is the cofounder of publishing consultancy firm Technically Media and its technology news network Technically Philly. Wink has reported for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Metro, Philadelphia CityPaper, and other publications. The journalist lives in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. He maintains a personal blog here and tweets from @christopherwink.

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