Laurier Launched!

Websites don’t get “relaunched” every day; but with some regularity, colleges, universities, and independent schools complete website redesign projects. Go-live day arrives and celebration is earned. In my consulting work for mStoner, I observe many of these relaunches up close.

Wilfrid Laurier University relaunched their new site just a few days back. Coming boldly to life from the constraints of a 2005 design and an aging CMS, the new wlu.ca site is glorious. I’m biased, I suppose. I led the mStoner engagement with the campus project team located in Waterloo, Ontario.

In September 2012, I took my first trip to Waterloo to meet with the RFP committee. The first phase was to be a strategic assessment. Their questions were tough but the conversation was invigorating. I left campus knowing they were the kind of team where collaboration would be rich and interesting. I hoped we’d win the work.

We did. And later that fall, the mStoner team traveled again to Canada and spent time on Laurier’s campuses in Waterloo and Brantford. Stakeholders were ready for a new website and their insights helped us identify gaps, assess opportunities, and develop a strategy for the University’s digital presence. It was a rich and interesting three days with the Laurier community.

The strategy work continued into early 2013 and became a strong foundation for a future website relaunch project. We advised on staffing, budget, governance, and content management systems. Together with the Laurier team, we created a plan for the phases, milestones, and key activities of the website relaunch project to follow. A website redevelopment site informed the Laurier community. In the end, the Laurier leadership was fully informed and on board! It was time for a second RFP…

Last December, I took a third trip to Waterloo to meet with the second RFP committee. I desperately wanted the chance to work with the Laurier team again. I got my wish and we kicked off the website relaunch project in early February 2014. That fourth trip to Canada included more incredible collaboration with the Laurier team, and the most snow I’ve seen. Ever. In my life. (Ask me about losing the keys to my rental car in a snow bank.)

From the start and until the end, the Laurier team was focused, talented, and motivated. They referred to their website relaunch project as a “renewal” or “redevelopment” of the University’s digital presence. That always felt right to me.

A future blog post will offer detail about strategic choices we made for the new site. For now, I hope to inspire you by Laurier’s careful and comprehensive approach. The team spent energy on preparation and planning. The team cared most about what the University needed. The results speak for themselves. It was an honor to play a small part in their success.

#LoveLaurier

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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