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Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Located in Washington, DC, CHEA is the largest institutional higher education membership organization in the United States, promoting academic quality through accreditation. CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.

Challenges:

vh.AGENCY recently announced the launch of a new website for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a well-known non-profit Higher Education association focused on accreditation and quality assurance. The website features new branding standards, a mobile-friendly design, easy-to-use navigation, and robust Custom Searchable Directories.

Prior to partnering with vh.AGENCY, CHEA’s website was outdated and had poor user experience (UX), was hosted on a closed proprietary Content Management System (CMS) that didn't allow the client to customize the website or dynamically populate content, and also generated unfriendly URLs which negatively impacted the website's search engine optimization (SEO). Further, an existing website usability study and extensive content audit reinforced the need for a complete overhaul of CHEA’s website, including content restructuring and migration of more than 10,000 pages, PDFs, and other media assets; development of new brand standards to better reflect their image and improve marketing communications; improved information architecture and navigation; and development of new Searchable Directories.

Solution:

Officially launched on June 14th, 2018, the re-designed https://www.chea.org website features a modern and mobile responsive design that utilizes user-friendly navigation and reflects CHEA’s new branding standards, including colors, fonts, a revised logo, and brand identity. The website is built with Drupal, a robust CMS, and one of the top leading CMS platforms in the world. Drupal allows the client to customize the website and generate dynamic content, making it easier to maintain pages and media files. Further, Drupal supports International language characters, unlike CHEA’s previous CMS. In addition, Drupal allows for indexing of PDF files, which is especially important as CHEA publishes a vast amount of content given their leadership role within the Higher Education industry. The majority of this content is in PDF format, but the old site had no ability to index PDF files and over 50% of the content was virtually undiscoverable to users.

One of the most significant findings of vh.AGENCY’s website usability study of the old site was that users were frustrated when searching the Higher Education Institutions and Programs database. This was particularly important given the tens of thousands of users who searched the database every month. Search results were limited and difficult to refine, among other barriers. Thus, new Custom Searchable Directories containing over 50,000 records of higher education information were developed, based on Drupal/Apache Solr open source search solution.

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