UW-Madison College of Engineering

Doing the Jobs to be Done

It’s one of the most revered institutions for cutting-edge engineering education on the planet. But on the web? UW-Madison’s College of Engineering was struggling to connect. KW2 started digging.

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Audience Overload

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering is a sprawling institution, with 8 degree-granting departments for grads and undergrads, 60+ research bodies and Engineering Professional Development, one of the nation's oldest and largest continuing education programs for professional engineers.

The College knew the outdated, non-responsive experience on its main website didn’t jive with the school’s reputation for cutting-edge classrooms and research. But one look at their analytics revealed an even deeper problem: 70% of visitors left within 30 seconds. Inspiring engineering’s newest leaders—while helping current students, working engineers, graduate candidates, researchers and faculty—takes longer than that.

Overwhelmed by the sheer number of distinct audiences and competing priorities that needed to be served, the College of Engineering website had lost sight of the jobs its users wanted to get done. To set things straight, we started with in-depth user research. 

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Goals, goals, goals

At the root of the College’s problem: confusing site navigation that divided content by audience type. It pigeon-holed the site’s diverse visitors and frustrated anyone looking for information not readily available along their predetermined pathway. This persona-based approach also bloated the website, forcing site administrators to duplicate or specialize core content for each audience.

Our solution? Refocusing the navigation on user goals instead of users. We surveyed nearly 500 faculty, students and prospects to find out what they wanted to accomplish on the site. Then we worked closely with the College to reshape the entire experience—reorganizing the nav, highlighting priority content and adding new features to help visitors locate, engage and leave feeling successful, including:

  • Easier access to department info for current students
  • Research and faculty profiles for grad school candidates
  • Coverage of the College’s groundbreaking work, front and center
  • A new majors matching tool that links prospects’ interests with areas of study
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An E for Effortless

With a sharp, mobile-friendly redesign that brings the school’s well-earned reputation for innovation out of the classroom and onto the web, UW-Madison College of Engineering’s new website earns high marks.

Even better? The site’s new, goals-oriented architecture and content strategy mean more students, faculty and up-and-coming engineers are easily finding what they’re looking for—including bright futures at the University of Wisconsin.