Warner Pacific College unveils a website full of possibilities.
There are moments when it is time to shake things up, and Warner Pacific has done just that with a brand new website that will present a totally new and dynamic marketing tool for the college.
Why a new site? One reason is due to the way the college itself has changed since launching its most recent website in 2006.The college has witnessed new construction on its Mt.Tabor campus, a tripling of enrollment between its traditional and Adult Degree programs, and – most importantly – the emergence of a clearer sense of its role as an urban, Christ-centered college.
At the same time, the Internet has undergone radical growth. It is the primary resource prospective students – whether traditional or adult degree – use to find information about colleges. And users expect to find content quickly and efficiently.If a college website doesn’t measure up, people will look elsewhere.
Last fall,Warner Pacific’s Executive Director of Marketing and College Relations, Lani Faith, partnered with local web design firm Marah Creative to start planning a new college website that would better capture Warner Pacific’s urban identity, while also improving the ability to display vital news and college information in a way that was more current and nimble than the old website could provide.
“We wanted to improve our ability to tell our story, meet the changing needs of current and future students, and lead the way in how to showcase a college community online,” said Faith. “You’ll find a lot of ‘sameness’ among college websites on the Internet, and we were determined to go a different direction.Warner Pacific’s Christ-centered, urban mission is unique and rich with opportunities for our students. The website needed to capture that.”
Marah Creative is a Portland-based company operated by siblings Adam Kohler and Kelsey Drake. Prior to this process, the two admit they didn’t know much about Warner Pacific, even though Kohler lives in the nearby Montavilla neighborhood and walks on Mt.Tabor Park frequently. However, as they learned more about the college, they were not only impressed but energized by the college’s commitment to being “In the City, for the City.” For example, when Drake learned about a mentoring program the college has created to help improve graduation rates among Portland high school students, she was sold. “Having a college actively take that stance in an area nobody else seems to be acknowledging, I remember telling Adam, ‘We have to get this job,’” said Drake. Kohler and Drake felt the website not only needed to capture the learning opportunities that Portland provides students, but also the spirit of service that permeates the college community.
“It’s being Christ-centered and being out in the community and showing compassion with people who need compassion,” said Kohler. “It’s more about the lifestyle of service.”
As part of the research process, Drake met with a number of focus groups representing current students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members to learn what their wishes were for a fully functional site. Through all of those conversations, the themes of academic strength, diversity, and community became clear.
“To me if someone is going to ask why traditional or adult degree students should attend Warner Pacific, it’s the urban benefit and also the close-knit community that they’re going to get here,” said Drake. “You don’t find these qualities at every college in the area.”
The web team, which included Marah Creative and members of Warner Pacific’s marketing team, wanted the visual elements of the new website to reflect the eclectic mixture of districts surrounding Mt. Tabor, from boutique shops and trendy restaurants to working-class neighborhoods.The website also features photography from Portland- based photographers David Papazian and Jared Birt that is meant to capture the imaginations of prospective students.
“We have a lot of first generation students, both in our traditional and adult degree programs, and we want them to realize that there is a place for them at Warner Pacific — that an affordable, academically-challenging, and Christ-centered education is within reach,” said Faith.
In addition to the artistic appeal of the website, it also is extremely functional. The home page caters to prospective students by making it easy to locate both traditional and adult degree programs, along with athletics and alumni pages. It also displays the schedules of upcoming events, feature stories, and other vital college news. Current students, faculty and staff, and parents will be able to click to custom designed “dashboards” that will display news specifically for them. The website will also allow for more videos, student blogs, and podcasts – staples of the new Internet diet.
Ultimately, the goal of the website is to communicate the hope that a college experience at Warner Pacific can bring to students, and those they will serve through the course of their careers.
“We are essentially marketing hope,” said Faith. “This website captures in a fresh and exciting way the qualities of Warner Pacific that will provide future traditional and adult degree students a profound sense of possibility for their lives. A new possibility really can change everything.”
By Scott A. Thompson
Director of Communications