Pitt-Bradford web site earns new awards

Redesign brings increased engagement

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has received several recognitions for its new online flagship,

The latest is a Digital Award of Excellence for School/University Website from the 27th Annual Communicator Awards.

In March, the 36th Annual Educational Advertising Awards, which receives more than 2,000 entries from 1,000 colleges, universities and secondary schools, recognized the site with a Silver award.

It was also selected the 2020 Best University Website in the 2020 WebAwards, sponsored by the Web Marketing Association, and received an honorable mention from the University and College Designers Association’s annual design competition.

The newly designed website debuted at the beginning of 2020, following a yearlong process with design firm mStoner Inc. 

The completely new website was built from scratch to be bolder, more visual and easier to navigate on all electronic devices than previous versions. Its design was also dictated by both qualitative and quantitative research, including insights and perspectives from current and prospective students.

“While we’re happy that our site has been recognized, we’re even happier that we’re seeing increased engagement on our site,” said Pat Frantz Cercone, executive director of communications and marketing. “Our analytics show that more people are coming to our site and spending more time there.”

Web manager Jim Pascarella said, “We have had an increase of almost 40% in visitors to landing pages and an increase of nearly 100% in time spent on pages when compared to the same time last year.”

Pascarella, working with a committee of faculty, staff and students, led the effort – from selecting mStoner Inc. as the project designer, to reducing, restructuring and rethinking the content of the website – to create a more streamlined experience. Enhanced search functions have made it easier for users to find what they are looking for on the site.

Web Programmer Mike McQuade has continued to add features to the website, such as enhanced video and sidebar features that give visitors access to additional related content.

More visuals on the website have helped the university connect with prospective students. Industry research shows that visual communication, such as photos, videos and graphics, is more interesting to current high school and college students and will lead them to engage more with a website.

The photos not only showcase the natural beauty of campus, but also that of the surrounding area and the educational and recreational options it provides to students and others.

“The additional images also more effectively communicate the close connections our students have with each other as well as with faculty and staff,” Cercone added.