Now THIS is what's up!

Chris Anderson, author of 'The Long Tail' and editor of Wired magazine, posted this week on his blog about the concept of "radical transparency", how social media is causing a seismic shift in corporate behavior from a closed society to one where everyone from the CEO to test engineers are blogging publicly and getting comments in return from customers.

So, imagine the serendipity I felt when I stumbled across the brilliant NC State University redesign blog. NC State, located in Raleigh, NC, embarked upon a complete website redesign effort at the beginning of this year. To solicit finput on this effort as it progressed, and publish updates on progress, they very wisely employed social media via this Site Redesign Blog. Every step of the process has been published and received comments. They conducted focus groups with prospective and current students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and published their recommendations as well. They even held a contest for those readers who responded to a survey, and the winner was awarded 2 tickets to the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) basketball tournament. (NOTE: To put this in perspective for the uninitiated, as far as North Carolinians are concerned, the ACC tournament is the national championship. Businesses clear out like it's Christmas day during tournament week. But I digress...) Presently they have 3 proposed site designs/themes posted for voting and comments, and to-date have had 91 comments posted. According to their SiteMeter, they are averaging over 400 unique visitors per day, and just under 10,000 visits total since inception.

Just imagine, imagine how much better they've made this site already by employing social media. State's been very careful to seek out all the groups who will visit and use the site, which is no small feat if you stop and think about all the ways a college web page gets used - sports information, admissions, applications, maps, registration, and so on make for a highly complex website entity. As my boss often says, the web is the only 24/7/365 brand presence for most companies and institutions; your web presence is your company or in this case, universiy.
Clearly NC State "gets" this and takes it seriously. As State posted on Nov. 22:

Primary goals for the re-designed homepage:

  • Embody the NC State brand and convey critical marketing messages
  • Create a simplified structure and improved user-centric navigation to improve usability
  • Enhance the visual design
  • Focus on prospective students
  • Create a sense of community and collaboration

The Kristasphere takes it's hat off to NC State and will enjoy continuing to watch the site redesign unfold.