Sept. 5, 2016

Dear faculty, students and staff,

In August, the Office of Communications launched Phase I of a much-needed redesign of Our goal for Phase I is to create navigation, content and functionality that better support each phase of the admissions cycle. It will go live in December 2016. We plan to update the community on the project regularly, and there will be opportunities for the campus to participate in the site’s development.

Phase II, which will begin in January 2017 and go live in August 2017, will likely include Advancement, majors/minors and academic departments. (Content development for the latter two will be discussed at an upcoming department chair meeting). The focus and timeline for Phase III are TBD.

The new site will be fully responsive, mobile-first and built on flexible, user-friendly templates. We will continue to use WordPress as our content management system and decentralize content management so units, departments, etc. can be trained and be responsible for updating, changing, etc. their own pages.

To date, we

  • Issued an RFP, analyzed proposals and selected Fastspot as our vendor. Its other clients include Yale, Bucknell and Amherst. (June-July)
  • Began content development process admissions and other teams across campus. (Aug.)
  • Held on-site meetings and workshops with the Fastspot team and representatives from key campus constituencies (as represented in our project governance groups listed below). (Aug.)
  • Conducted a survey on use of the site in the admissions process with mostly first- and second-year students from all three schools. (Aug.)
  • Briefed the Cabinet on the project. (Aug.)
  • Reviewed and approved the discovery document and the creative brief. (Aug.)

Our next steps include

  • Review and approve the site’s information architecture (Sept.)
  • Content submission, review, copyedit (Sept.-Oct.)
  • Creating database schema and CMS framework (Oct.)
  • Design homepage and templates (Oct.-Nov.)
  • Content migration (Oct.-Dec.)
  • Review and approve of SEO recommendations (Nov.)
  • Review and approve analytics recommendations (Dec.)
  • Test, test, test (Dec.)
  • Launch (Dec.)

We plan to invite the community to participate in our next steps through tasks that could include A/B testing, card sorts, surveys, usability tests, click tests, etc. We’ll communicate these opportunities via Drew Today and Drew This Week.

The project is governed by

  • A Steering Group, responsible for reviewing and approving major items like final design, final IA, functionality, timelines, etc.; providing direction if there are disagreements within/between governance groups, between Drew and the vendor, etc.; deciding when the site is ready for launch, etc. Members are Kira Poplowski, Bob Massa, Laura Martin, Marti Winer and Deb Liebowitz.
  • A Working Group, responsible for executing Drew’s project responsibilities day-to-day. Members are Kira Poplowski, Faith Jackson, Justin Jackson, J. Brooks Terry and Margaret Kiernan.
  • Consulting Groups, which develop or help develop admissions-related content in their area. The Consulting Groups consist of representatives from
    • CLA Admissions
    • Theological School Admissions
    • Caspersen School Admissions
    • Athletics
    • Student Affairs
    • Communications

Faith Jackson is the project manager, Justin Jackson is the technical lead, J. Brooks Terry is the content lead, with support from Andy McMains and Kim Mollo, and I have overall responsibility for the project’s success.

Please email me any questions.



Kira Poplowski
Vice President for Communications and Marketing
Drew University