After more than 20 years of using the same in-house Content Management System (CMS) to power their website, Misericordia University made the switch to the Finalsite platform and Composer CMS in 2016. What was the spark that led to such a drastic change after two decades of hosting and managing the website in-house?
"We wanted to offer the best visuals and content offerings to our students and families, but our previous platform just simply couldn't keep up with all the constant changes. We needed a platform that could," said Steve Filipiak, Web Content Coordinator at Misericordia.
"We quite simply weren't able to keep up with the designs and technology changes that seem to evolve and improve at a fast and faster rate," Steve said.
Additionally, Steve said that the University's previous in-house solution had to account for a ton of third-party vendors that complicated the update process, even for some of the smaller changes or improvements made.
At A Glance
Misericordia University is a Catholic university in northeast Pennsylvania, founded by the Sisters of Mercy, that provides caring, motivated students with a challenging education. Misericordia provides personal attention, support, and opportunities that enables students to succeed. Misericordia University provides a quality education through the tenets of mercy, service, justice and hospitality—charisms set forth by the school's founders. The university has been guided by these principles for more than 90 years.
"Finalsite's support is like no other. My questions are always answered within an hour or day, and the people I talk to are knowledgeable and helpful. Combine that with a smooth redesign process, incredible designs, and consistent updates, and Finalsite is hands down the best school website provider in the field."
WEB CONTENT COORDINATOR
After exploring numerous other options and vendors, Misericordia University made the call to partner with Finalsite to power their new, redesigned website. In the end, it was the overall value of the Finalsite platform that sealed the deal.
"We talked with a lot of vendors while looking at other potential solutions, and while some of them had interesting software or solutions, a lot of them also had additional assets that added on layers of cost to the initial price tag that quickly added up," Steve said. "Finalsite had all of the modules we needed under one platform."
Misericordia was primarily interested in Finalsite's Calendar Manager at the time as an all-in-one way to manage events and schedules for the university. Additionally, Misericordia was working on a campus map for the website to help guide website visitors on a virtual journey before stepping foot on their campus — something more important now than ever before.
"Finalsite had an answer in one way or another to every question we asked or a software solution to every problem we needed to solve or wanted to explore for new features," Steve said. "I really got the feeling from those early conversations, and certainly now, that working with Finalsite was, and is, like working with an extension of the same company."
Jumping ahead in time, that same sentiment has continued over the years as Misericordia's use of the Finalsite platform and Composer CMS evolved and expanded. Learning from Finalsite's numerous virtual workshops, webinars, and Finalsite University (our annual conference), Misericordia has created an incredible website with simple navigation, powerful visuals, and a strong user experience that keeps visitors coming back for more community content.
"What really rounds out the Finalsite platform for me is the support," Steve said. "Finalsite's support is like no other. My questions are always answered within an hour or day, and the people I talk to are knowledgeable and helpful. Combine that with a smooth redesign process, incredible designs, and consistent updates, and Finalsite is hands down the best school website provider in the field."
Redesigning with Accessibility in Mind
Steve himself did a tremendous amount of research ahead of time to nail down what Misericordia really needed and wanted out of a new website. Namely, Steve wanted the new website that makes it easier for both prospects and current students to navigate around and find the content that matters the most to them.
"The redesign process has been smooth, we've had a consistent project manager since the start of the redesign, we have an organized, step-by-step process for the entire process, and we have a shared, collaborative workspace that has made this redesign so much easier to work on," Steve said.
Steve is looking forward to the video Misericordia will add to the homepage, the ability to easily add videos to pages throughout the website, a streamlined navigation throughout the website, and an enhanced search experience to more-easily guide visitors to pages.
But there was one more feature that Steve was really excited to talk about.
"AudioEye is one of the coolest additions we've added to the website," Steve said. "Every school or university worries about accessibility at this point, and not having a real solution can have a huge negative impact on your school's brand and user experience. Being able to essentially solve that issue with a single solution was a huge game-changer for us. It's saved us so much time and stress."
The automatic accessibility checker has been a huge quality of life improvement for Misericordia as the university continues to pave the way for accessibility on the digital front, something that has been key to the university's continued digital success.
Moving forward, Misericordia will continue to refine and improve their mobile responsive design and continuously improve their user experience to stay ahead of the curve.
Spreading the word with SEO
"We're really proud of the state-of-the-art experience that we were able to create for our community and the ability to provide a universal website that's easily accessible on all devices," Steve said. "Of course, we can't wait to get the word out and have everyone visit our new website."
Steve is always pushing for more search engine optimization for Misericordia (and other schools in general) and has worked with Finalsite’s consulting team on creating, executing, and refining a strong SEO plan to bring additional visitors to Misericordia's new website.
"We rely on Finalsite's team of experts, and we really love the ability to submit feedback and make suggestions to the SEO, Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and social media experts we work with," Steve said. "Working with Finalsite, we really feel that we're a part of something greater. Misericordia and Finalsite have a true working relationship that I just couldn't see working with anyone else in the education software industry."
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