(Not Your Average Digital) Viewbook

The traditional university admissions viewbook is a weighty, expensive and imprecise tactic that, for years, has been the hallmark of many admissions campaigns. 
Since the success of the traditional viewbook couldn’t be measured accurately, our team longed for insight. We wanted to

  • communicate successfully with prospective students in the medium they felt most comfortable with: the web;
  • measure user behavior and shape our communications and strategy in response to user needs; and 
  • understand exactly what current prospective students and parents look for when they seek college information.

Let’s not forget the big one: We wanted to turn prospective students into full-fledged Owls.
Though numerous universities have begun offering digital viewbooks, students and parents are still in the habit of getting lots of higher-ed snail mail. That meant our digital viewbook would have to completely immerse its users, give them a novel and deeply personal way to experience college life, and most importantly, successfully deliver the information they want.
Thanks to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we already had the content we required; it was simply organized and formatted differently than web content. So we examined the viewbook’s contents and reorganized it according to four general themes:

  • Why Temple?
  • Experience 
  • Student Life
  • Next Stop (Apply)

Our digital strategy team then researched how other universities were delivering digital content to prospective students. We talked about the elements we were drawn to and what probably wouldn’t work. Once the site’s structure was organized and developed, marketing copy for those four sections was revised by the content team and delivered to Eastern Standard, our development and design partner. 
The design and multimedia teams focused on executing the site’s opening video, drone footage of the heart of Main Campus—an owl’s-eye view into Temple student life. We selected photos that best evoked the characteristics that make Temple special: its uncommon students; its urban location; its diversity of people and programs. 
Throughout the development and design process, SM+C’s web team worked with Eastern Standard to meet deadlines, ensure functionality and usability, and coordinate feedback.
Once we felt the site was far enough along to share with our partners in Admissions, we met with them, describing the strategy and the decisions we’d made. We walked them through the site, element by element, and considered their feedback. Now that we can measure what works and what doesn’t, we’ll use data and metrics to tweak the content over time—adding more of what works and subtracting what doesn’t.
After a yearlong process, we were (and still are!) thrilled with the results. Among them:

  • With the homepage campaign takeover, we increased the engagement with the temple.edu hero image section by 100 percent.
  • Users referred to nextstop.temple.edu from the temple.edu homepage were highly engaged, spending two to three minutes on the site and visiting around three pages.
  • The number of request-for-information submissions that originated from nextstop.temple.edu account for 5 percent of all request-for-information submissions.
  • Nextstop.temple.edu has helped facilitate a dramatic increase in non-U.S. visitors to the request-for-information form versus last year (a total increase of 160 percent).
  • view of the next stop website on a mobile phone