CWSL takes the lead with new user-focused web site
California Western School of Law is the independent, American Bar Association/Association of American Law Schools-accredited San Diego law school that prepares graduates for the practice of law through a carefully sequenced program of study combining traditional legal theory with hands-on learning in real and simulated client environments.
California Western serves between 600 and 700 students in its three-year Juris Doctor program each year, and has more than 10,000 living alumni.
California Western School of Law's (CWSL) web site had not been updated since the mid-2000s and was due for a complete user experience overhaul, especially in the areas of navigation, structure and design as well as being based on a modern and future-proof CMS.
The goal was to create a user-focused website that displays content logically and with a focus on short blocks of content, to demonstrate visually how the School is different than the competition competitors, and to make it easy for prospective students to understand CWSL as well as why they should apply and enroll.
As part of the project, several legacy systems needed to be integrated with the CMS to support student and alumni self-service through the website.
CWSL chose Sitecore as their CMS and marketing platform and selected to partner with XCentium for implementing the website.
The core of the solution is based on Sitecore architecture best practices, which is highly modular to provide maximum support for Sitecore's editing tools, as well as current and future usage of CMS functionality, especially Multi-variate testing and personalization.
The site is implemented with multi-device support for mobile, tablet and desktop using the Frameless Grid framework. This provides a very focused and optimized user experience, regardless of the device used to access the site.
Apart from serving as a general marketing and informational site, http://www.cwsl.edu also provides special content and functionality for prospective students, alumni and internal user groups via password protected areas of the site.
Prospective students, being the main target group for the web site, can log in to get access to dedicated content, pay fees, update contact information, book meetings on campus and engage with advisers who can guide them through the application and enrollment process.
Alumni can maintain their user profiles, see upcoming Alumni events or donate to the School in various ways.
To facilitate the student related functionality, the solution is integrated with CWSL's internal student database system, InfoLink, from where student information, payable fees and other personalized information is retrieved.
For donations, Sitecore has been integrated with CWSL's Raiser's Edge fundraising and relationship management system to record donations and other alumni related activities happening on the website. This integration is done via customization of Sitecore Web Forms for Marketers (WFFM), which exports form data to a custom format used by Raiser's Edge.
Payment is done through a custom integration between Sitecore WFFM and VirtualMerchant payment processing. This integration is also tied closely to the InfoLink and Raiser's Edge integrations for smooth and efficient operation.
The new solution has had a significant positive impact for CWSL.
First of all, the implementation of Sitecore allows the School to easily create, structure and manage content as well as setting up new payment forms and tie these to either InfoLink or Raiser's Edge as needed.
Second, the new site has resulted in a significant increase in conversions compared to the old site and there are clear indications that visitors can find information and services faster and more efficiently than before.
Finally, students, alumni, internal users and stakeholders are giving very positive feedback regarding the new website's ease of use and design.
The team at XCentium went above and beyond to understand who we are and what we needed. They were sensitive to our timing and internal processes and worked closely with us to deliver a solution that was right for our nonprofit law school.
Pam Hardy, Director of Marketing & Communications, California Western School of Law
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