University of Virginia case study

university_of_virginia

University of Virginia

How UVA Transformed 170 Outdated Faculty Profiles Into Research-First Websites

“Maintaining an inviting and informative online presence for a scholar’s work has grown increasingly essential. Professional and lab web pages are often the first place that current and prospective students, academic colleagues, funding organizations, journalists and the general public look to learn more about you and your work.”

-Zach Wheat, Director of Digital Communications. 

 

Problem

Zach Wheat is the Director of Digital Communications at the University of Virginia’s College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He is responsible for developing and implementing a central digital strategy for the College, and oversees its network of websites, email outreach and mobile and social media presences, and the daily management of the College's main website.

He and the Dean’s Office at The College of Arts & Sciences wanted to upgrade several generations of outdated faculty websites to:

  • Have a consistent look and feel to enhance the UVA brand
  • Be mobile-responsive to look great on phones
  • Showcase current faculty research to attract students, grant funding and press

Zach also surveyed faculty about their website needs and learned that they wanted a customizable online presence without requiring too much time, effort or expense. He quickly learned where faculty had websites, what technology they used, who maintained content and what their goals were.

Solution

OpenScholar launched 170 UVA faculty websites, doubling the school’s faculty site footprint. Here’s how the rollout worked:

  • OpenScholar designed two mobile-responsive UVA specific website themes 
  • In 3 weeks, OpenScholar built new websites for the first 68 faculty to request new sites
  • OpenScholar launched a dedicated site where UVA faculty can request new websites, see best practices and get help: https://uva.theopenscholar.com/get-a-website/home
  • UVA announced the OpenScholar partnership to faculty on the blog and over email 
  • OpenScholar trained Zach and Lana Boyle (web developer) on platform support

Ongoing, OpenScholar supports UVA with website migration and creation, 24/7 customer support, and online resources to inspire faculty to update their sites.

Results

In one year, Zach and the College’s Digital Communications Office transformed how they launch, update and support new websites.

Today they have 170+ UVA-branded and personalized faculty sites and:

  • A scalable way to add hundreds of sites annually without new team members
  • A single dashboard to view OpenScholar websites, users, posts, visits and more
  • Happy faculty who have easy tools to showcase and publish their research