Message from Kerri Glover, Executive Director of Community Relations and Marketing
We are delighted to announce the launch of our newly designed college website, still located at www.abtech.edu. After 9-10 months of hard work and dedication, the website went live July 7.
The new site was designed, first and foremost, for prospective students of A-B Tech. We wanted to make it brighter, cleaner, easier to navigate, and more user friendly. It is no longer structured to reflect our internal divisions, departments, offices, or terminology, but instead is designed to be more engaging and to make it easier for students to find the information they need. This change was critical because the website is the college’s top marketing tool – it’s where we refer prospective students from all advertising, recruiting materials, social media, and publications.
There are new digital experiences for Current Students and Future Students, as well as Student Resources, How to Enroll, and How to Pay sections. The Programs section has been organized by Academic, Continuing Education, Workforce, High School and Adult Education tabs; and there is a consistent look for all of these areas with blocks for individual programs. Additionally, there are career cluster blocks on the home page that bring together everything the college offers by areas of interest, including degrees, diplomas, workforce trainings, and classes.
The process of designing the new website began last August with a deep dive into research led by our top-notch web design firm, Bluespark – we truly cannot say enough good things about Bluespark! The first phase included several members of the Community Relations & Marketing team and “super users” representing various areas of the college. Bluespark has worked with many colleges, and our design team was led by a former college professor who truly understands how college websites are used. They also did a thorough study of our site’s analytics to be certain the most frequently accessed content is featured on the new site. Bluespark also understands the importance of branding, such as the use of A-B Tech colors and graphic design elements, but they recommended new elements such as Asheville content and mountains in the page footers to reflect the beautiful place we call home. The new site also is fully accessible and responsive for mobile devices.
As with most websites, the most labor-intensive phase was development. Moving content from one website to another and upgrading the content management platform must be done thoughtfully, deliberately and carefully. The COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more important for students to be able to explore the college and register via the website, so we have taken extra time to test it from various devices and browsers. In a perfect world, we would be able to do a “soft launch” of the new website in a non-registration season, but that plan was another casualty of COVID-19. A soft launch allows time for identifying and fixing “bugs” or glitches – and any new website has them, so please bear with us as we tweak over the next few days. (If you report any issues, please include screenshots, the device and browser you were using.)
Special thanks go to Bluespark and Webmaster Frank Stewart for leading the process; Web Assistant Jeff Hudson and two stellar A-B Tech Web Programming work study students, Justin Hochschild and Jonathan Davenport, for their invaluable technical support; the entire Community Relations and Marketing team for contributions too numerous to list; Dana Moore, Lisa Bush, Nancy Kool and former Registrar Aaron Richman (our super users); John Bradley and Eugene Pressley for IT support; Digital Media Technology instructor Jonathan Ross; and current and past Presidents and Executive Leadership Team members for their assistance and support.
Finally, Frank will be training registered content users to use the new website over the next couple of weeks. His plans include a Zoom recording, as well as conducting several small “live” sessions with heavy website user groups. Stay tuned for those details from Frank later this week.
For any questions, suggestions, feedback or comments, please email or call us. We appreciate your support!