Explore Montana State University

Creating a lead generation page for your university or institution? Here are a few thoughts after implementing the “Explore” page for Montana State University.

In 2015, I had the pleasure of implementing a university lead generation form designed by Graphic Designer Ron Lambert and the Montana State University marketing team!

Overall this design was challenging due to a few of our special page requirements:

Keep the users on the lead page

In order to get the contact information we hoped for, we had to include enough content to remain informative without linking to other pages.

The clever flip over and hover tiles showed additional information without crowding the space. In addition, we chose images that conveyed messages without any text. For example, the section explaining MSU’s majors is interesting, but we didn’t need a paragraph on our beautiful surroundings—that photo speaks for itself!

Use OmniUpdate Content Management System to house our custom page

In implementing this design, we needed to change pieces of the theme for this page only, but we didn’t want to modify the CMS’s XSL templates. Some of our solutions included the following:

  • Disable the heading link for the site logo using JavaScript.
  • Remove the bulk of heading and footer elements using a custom stylesheet.
  • Create assets for each SVG icon—this worked remarkably well for keeping the SVG code inline once published but keeping the page tidy when editing!

Maintain minimal page load time even with a lot of media

Due to the parallax design and large banner, all images and files had to be compressed to keep load times down. Also, we worked to implement SVG icons instead of PNGs or GIFs. The SVGs also made the page more fun to “play” with—the colors could easily change using simple CSS!


Though this was a time-consuming creation, our page analytics showed that it barely made any return on the effort put into it. Given more time on it, I would make the following recommendations:

  • Add Twitter card metadata so the page looked beautiful when shared.
  • Change the text on the form button to make the offer more enticing. HubSpot’s article about lead generation forms points out that the submit button may be the “final opportunity to convince your visitors that they should fill out those last few fields.”
  • Make the benefit more clear to the user—explain what the Explorer’s Guide contains or why it will be exciting to receive.

If you want to check it out (or sign up to learn more about Montana State University!) visit www.montana.edu/explore.

Residence Life Interactive Map

Need a responsive interactive and customized map? This project uses SVG and Fancybox to create a useful resource for students trying to find their way around campus.

When looking into how best to create an image with interactive elements, I had to go beyond using outdated image maps and get creative with implementing maps using SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and creating a responsive, interactive information pop-ups!

This map looks great on desktop and mobiletest it out yourself! The functionality enables a user to click either the name or the building itself to learn more about it.

Within Illustrator, we grouped paths and then was able to edit the exported .svg file and assign IDs. Later, I targeted these groups to hide and display the building indicators as necessary.

If you’ve designed a map on Adobe Illustrator, let me help create a responsive and interactive element that your users will love!

This great tool was a collaborative project with Alison Gauthier, Graphic Designer for Montana State University. Please note, illustrative work is very time consuming!

Naropa University

A redesign to help put users’ needs first for the Naropa University website.

Working with the team from OmniUpdate along with Mary Haste from Naropa University, we implemented a redesign for the entire university website.

Unlike other designs I’ve implemented, Naropa University’s wasn’t quite ready to move all pages into the responsive view. We worked through the challenges and created non-responsive and responsive versions using the same Sass base CSS. As they work through updating each page’s outdated elements—removing fixed width content, updating low-quality images with higher-resolution versions and revisiting text—they can then easily switch their page to the responsive version using a page setting in the OmniUpdate CMS!

To ensure user needs were met, accessibility, semantics and improving content were all specific goals of these updated pages. Many colors were modified to be more vibrant and have a higher contrast in order to adhere to recommended color contrast. Are you meeting these standards? Check your own site’s colors!

Visit their updated website at http://naropa.edu!

Elizabeth City State University Web Redesign

ECSU’s redesign included many creative design pieces that presented fun challenges for implementing in a responsive environment.

In 2015, I worked with Vayakone Sphabmixay from SAX, Inc. implementing their redesign for Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. There were many creative design pieces that presented fun challenges for implementing in a responsive environment.

Historical Year Timeline

The timeline is both collapsible and adapts to mobile devices. In addition, with this and other dynamic pages developed—such as the Past Presidents of ECSU—a page scroll to the updated area was necessary to orient users to new information.

Custom Weather Feed

If you use OmniUpdate for your Content Management System, you can set your feeds to republish every hour. This is perfect for third-party tools that are only free up to a number of page views. For ECSU, the weather feed was implemented using Weather Underground’s API and is re-published on an hourly basis.

Hover Tiles

The content tiles on ECSU’s admissions page were designed to link to other elements when a user hovers or clicks on a image.

Visit ECSU’s website at http://www.ecsu.edu/ to see the variety of page layouts and how they work on your devices—desktop, tablet and mobile!