William Paterson University

Case Study

William Paterson University

WPU is a repeat client – their latest cycle came at the three-year mark and was driven by messaging requirements from Admissions.

I was engaged by WPU’s marketing agency, Fuseideas, which was in the process of updating the branding and marketing strategy for the university. The new brand – Will. Power. – became the catalyst to amp up how the university describes the academic experience at WPU in the context of career opportunities (really measurable student outcomes). The web discovery phase was compressed to four weeks, piggy-backing off brand development. It focused on: a wellness check of the site structure; a heuristic review of competing and aspirational higher-ed sites; and, a laying of groundwork for future site personalization.

The overarching goal was to cause students to see themselves as becoming successful at WPU. Key to this objective was:

  • Inclusion of “proof points” to support the academic quality/positioning message (backed by nationally recognized and noteworthy programs)
  • Emphasis on outcomes
  • Leveraging the Will. Power. brand to help students see and achieve their potential.

An interesting aside for those who work regularly in the world of higher-ed, the critically important department tasked with enrolling students is alternately called “Admissions” or “Admission”. Every college and university has a preference, with a well thought-out rationale for whether they employ the third “s” or not. I learned over a decade ago that the choice is not open to debate, that clients become grumpy if the wrong term is used, and that it’s usually better to ask than to guess.

Tasks & Deliverables

  • Stakeholder interviews with key departments
  • Heuristic review of WPUNJ and related sites (Landscape Analysis)
  • Site structure wellness check and proposed site map changes
  • Wireframes
  • Functionality annotations

Similar Projects & Clients

  • Boston College (Admission)
  • Dean College (Admissions)
  • Dominican College (Admissions)
  • Goucher College (Admissions)
  • Hamilton College (Admission)
  • Iona College (Admissions)
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (Admission)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Admissions)
  • Norfolk State University (Admissions)
  • Northeastern University (Admissions)
  • Plymouth State University (Admissions)
  • Simmons College (Admission)
  • St. Anselm College (Admission)
  • University of Virginia Darden School of Business (Admissions)
  • Western New England University (Admissions)
  • Wilson College (Admissions)

UX Timeline & Work Samples

Stakeholder Interviews

Drafted questionnaires for stakeholder interviews with Marketing, Enrollment, and Academic Groups. Lead agency interviews with client on campus.

Landscape Analysis

Conducted heuristic review of WPU site and web sites of several competing/aspirational sites in the higher-education space. This helped to create an understanding of the digital ecosystem within which the WPU site existed and to tease out emerging best practices. Additional attention was placed on academic program search functionality at the request of the client.

View Landscape Report

Site Map

Information architecture work included a wellness check of the current site structure, which had largely adhered to the structure established during the previous site redesign cycle. Minor changes were introduced to accommodate program/majors search functionality linking to academic department pages.

View Site Map


Developed desktop wireframes that supported new branding initiative and program/majors search functionality.

View Wireframes

Design Review

Briefed-in agency designer and participated in internal design review meetings to ensure feature continuity from UX through design.

Functionality Annotations

Annotated design files with functionality specifications for hand-off to developers on client team.

View Annotated Design