The school chose to work with Sitecore and one of its certified partners, Weymouth Design, to rebuild the site from the ground up. Sitecore's .net technology and ability to integrate well with other back-end technologies-such as Microsoft SharePoint, which would in turn work well with the Colleague database-made it a good choice for the school. Weymouth's experience with content management integration and its reputation for creative and easy-to-use web interfaces also made it an easy decision.
"It really seemed like the most robust CMS system for us and it was also relatively easy to use. It was easy to train additional users within the community to make updates themselves," says Rau.
The cost of the Sitecore technology ranges from $15,000 for small clients to hundreds of thousands for large clients-Brooklyn Law School falls somewhere in the middle. Design services are separate from the CMS.
Darren Guarnaccia, senior vice president of product marketing for Sitecore, emphasized the importance of the usability that Weymouth could implement for the site. This is particularly important for the school's website because it is used to recruit students and to keep alumni motivated. Weymouth Design was also a trusted and experienced partner for the project.
"One of the things that Sitecore does is make sure that all of our partners are well-trained and certified. We have a certification program where we take your development teams and staffing to make sure they understand the product," says Guarnaccia. "We also work with customers and partners and do things like design reviews to make sure that they're using the product the best way, but Weymouth is such a seasoned partner, they can pretty much do all of that on their own."
Usability was limited with the old system, with only a few people able to make edits to the website using HTML. With Sitecore, more staff members would be able to take part in the editing process. According to Guarnaccia, using Sitecore should allow users at the school to create and manage content without having to call a developer. For more sophisticated technical programming, Weymouth could build whatever tool is needed, but it would then give it back to the users to place it wherever they want.
"The business people can have these elements and capabilities for the site but still [allow] the users ... to move them around or deploy them wherever they like," says Guarnaccia. "It really splits up the work and lets the business people do stuff without having to wait for IT for weeks or months."
Brooklyn Law School's new website went live in November 2009. The recruiting season for that year had kicked off with the old website, but within months of the new launch, the admissions department noticed a dramatic improvement in both the admission process and the quality of candidates that they were getting.
"It actually ended up being overly successful," says Rau. "It ended up proving to us what we had known all along-which was that we needed to refresh the website. There was of course positive feedback immediately from a lot of the students and from the internal community as well."
Within the first year of the new site, the click-through rate dropped dramatically, which meant that users were able to find what they were looking for faster. Admissions staff members also found that they were getting fewer questions from prospective students now that they could find information easily on the site themselves.
With the ease that a more functional CMS provides, the school now makes regular enhancements. According to Rau, after the first year they made improvements on the homepage. "We've added additional video footage to the site, from classroom videos of the professors," says Rau. "Currently our admissions department is working on a bit of a promotional piece for the school. It's really been an ongoing process
For Harvey, the benefit, in addition to having a better web offering, is that the school no longer has to wait years to do full-blown upgrades. The new system also enables more of the staff to work on the site.
"It has allowed us to do things faster and really it's been good in terms of staff morale to be able to get their hands on a number of different things with the website themselves," says Harvey. While the team members are happy with the turnout, they are not content to leave it as is. Future improvements will depend on a statistical analysis of the site to figure out where users spend the most time and what else needs to be done.
"It wasn't like we went from point A to point B, it was like we jumped six or seven levels," says Harvey. "It was night and day between our old site and our new site."