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Euprio Award 2011 Rotterdam University, University of Applied Sciences

In nine months from worst to best!

Introduction We hereby proudly present you with our brand new website. Not just one of those many cases lying on your desk. We are talking about our success story: winning the ScienceGuide website benchmark for higher education. Within nine short months, we have fought our way to the top. Leaving those poor third division pitches behind, we fast-forwarded straight to our own Champions League. To where we belong. Not playing the rest, but fighting the best! We have succeeded in creating an inspiring and contemporary website with a strong focus on usability, without too many bells and whistles. Functional and graphic design supported by an innovative information system. We have come a long way. For years an outdated site was the face of an industryleading knowledge institute for higher professional education. Our ambitions were entirely different from the reality. It was obvious; our digital business card had lost its ink. So here we are, equipped with a new beating heart, a muscular body and a brand new pair of shoes. Not only for the looks. We run fast now. Really fast.

Want to know how?

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1 So long, farewell 1.1

Antique like granny

In January 2010 we draw a firm conclusion: the website of Rotterdam University is heavily outdated. The technology is almost antique, the content is outdated and you almost need to get out your GPS to navigate through the site. The lack of an editorial team makes for fragmented and chaotic management and a complex decision-making-tree. Unfortunately, not everyone in the organisation is aware of the need for renewal and we unexpectedly encounter much resistance. 1.2

Houston, we have a problem

The leverage we are looking for appears to be ScienceGuide, a publisher in the knowledge sector. ScienceGuide conducts an annual benchmark among all sites in higher education. A 16th place (last of the multisectoral Higher Professional Education) makes us realise that something has to be done. We received much criticism about the technique, the value of the content, the design and the lack of interactivity. A confirmation of our concerns, and also the motive for the Board of Directors to give their consent for a clear mission: a complete new website within six months! 1.3

Love at first site

In the search for a suitable partner, we are positively surprised by the approach of Tam Tam, an Internet Development Agency. From day one, Tam Tam challenge us to think like innovators and help us in making difficult choices regarding a solid concept. Tam Tam convince us in particular through 4 strengths: -

Project-based Agile Scrum Integration of social media Technical knowledge (SEO, barrier-free) Organisational involvement (alumni)

Tam Tam's tender is within our regular budget and with great confidence we choose them as our partners.

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2 Ready to rumble September 2010, the Rotterdam University and Tam Tam teams start from scratch to build a complete new product. During four intense workshops we compile and prioritise our goals, personas and user stories. A solid foundation from which we can continually test our achievements. 2.1

Agile Scrum: intensive cooperation

In periods of two weeks (sprints) a part of the site will be produced, from design to engineering. Thus, the website will be build, layer by layer and the team stays flexible. Each week, three of our people stay on location at Tam Tam: short lines, quick decisions. Homemade employees Several members of the Tam Tam scrum team (design and development) are actually former students of multimedia programmes at Rotterdam University. They are alumni with a strong motivation to work on this particular project. Two former Rotterdam University students also make up part of the Rotterdam University team. 2.2

Investing in technology

Working on a completely new product offers you the opportunity to lay down a strong and solid foundation as well. The focus is on working from a central source with direct links to the site. In this way we automate a uniform presentation of all information on the site, and benefit from a well filled central database.

Umbraco Rotterdam University supports the idea of open source technology, which is perfectly in line with being a knowledge sharing institute. We agree with Tam Tam to introduce Umbraco as our new ‘open source’ CMS.

Hodex Hodex is an initiative of the Dutch universities: a standard for programme information in XML, in which all higher education institutions can offer their information to a wide range of study choice websites.

Umbraco is a free CMS, it is continuously developing and reduces the project costs significantly. Umbraco is very user friendly, for both large and small changes within the site.

Rotterdam University is the first university to fill the Hodex database to the point that we can use the information to fill our own website.

Highlights Hodex is our source for study programme information and Highlights for images and videos showcasing our programmes. All showcases shown on our programme pages come directly from the Highlights database. Highlights is a homemade product, based on the same idea as Hodex; one central database.

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Like me

For us, social media is the ideal way to get in to contact with a young audience. However, we realise that we are not "your Facebook friend", but a serious knowledge institution which you can expect to behave as such. We make sure that we use social media in a responsible and relevant way: -


Share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Hyves Twitter feed with corporate news Facebook ambassadors for all programmes Facebook fanpage with news feed for students

All together now

Creating and developing a website with just three men and an internet agency is no mean feat. You need the support of your own IT department, the decisions of the executive board, the faith and trust of your own colleagues and the involvement of the organisation. All stakeholders are represented and involved in the process at various stages: -

Participation in workshops Concept and result presentations Screen sharing workshops with Tam Tam Customer Feedback Platform (Getsatisfaction)

Hodex Bootcamp The Hodex database is a wonderful initiative, providing an enormous improvement in efficiency – when the database is filled that is., Att the start of this project we our database is empty. Many hands make light work and therefore we organise a Hodex Bootcamp; all our colleagues from the Communication department are brought to a special location in Rotterdam where we work together for two intense days of data entry. Result: a full database and successful team building. Editorial staff To ensure that we can respond to all the needs of the organisation, we form a brand new editorial team for all web content. All issues or adjustments are now handled by this team.

3 Brand new shoes 3.1

Main features

May 2011, the new is ‘live’. We are proud of the quality of the content and the functional and graphic design. The main new features: - Automatic connection to Hodex and Highlights with the CMS - Completely rewritten content - Barrier-free webdesign - Written and built for SEO


User friendly CMS Central questionnaire Landing page by subject Google Custom Search

Search Engine Optimization Thanks to the solid technical foundation, we see a huge increase in traffic from Google in the first period after launching the new website. We realise that we have made a good choice in using Hodex as a database for the website. Service level Our study information department has daily contact with potential students and with our website visitors. The uniform presentation of our study programmes and the wellfilled database enables them to provide a top class service. The response since the launch have been very positive, both internally as externally. Through our customer feedback platform, Getsatisfaction, we are in direct contact with our target audience and conduct constructive discussions with them. 3.2

Continuous improvement

We are aware of the fact that a website requires continuous development. Innovation through investment. Our organisation and the target group continuously offer feedback on the site. We also have our own wish list of all kinds of improvements. Therefore we try to come up with a new release every three months. A website is never finished. Neither are we. 3.3

Michael Johnson, Usain Bolt, Rotterdam University…

The main goal for 2011 was to set foot in the top 10 of ScienceGuide’s benchmark. Finally, ScienceGuide reward our efforts with a number one position; best website in higher education 2011!

We ran like hell… and chose the right shoes.

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Rotterdam University Website for Euprio 2011  

The case descriping Rotterdam University's struggle from worst to best website.