University Website Optimization

This case study explores how website optimization delivers value to visitors.

The Quantitative Systems Biology Center at Vanderbilt University wanted the best website optimization services they could find.  As a multi-disciplinary institution exploring biological complexity through mathematics, they were looking for the best.

Interestingly, faculty and students (post-doc and graduate) work in an extraordinarily collaborative environment to progress the field forward.

Professors, students, researchers, and theoretical mathematicians represent a few types of expected website visitors.  Uses for the site include listing online events, sharing webinars, and discussing ongoing research.

The WebsiteMike team was excited to secure the Center’s RFP (request for proposal) and get started.  Upon accepting our competitively priced bid we quickly built a standard site to establish an online presence.  Additionally, to ensure the health and growth of the site we drafted a long-term development plan.

The range of anticipated visitors indicated the need for a multi-purpose site.  Different plug-and-play modules would be assigned to handle specific functionality – a robust Events Calendar and a Course Management System to name two.

The QSBC is a uniquely positioned organization in an increasingly competitive and active scientific field.

Streamlined processes and efficiency pay big dividends with successful funding, recruitment, and scientific progress.

Not to mention the foundation of education central to Vanderbilt University, the umbrella organization housing the QSBC.

In this case study we’ll take a look at how the team at WebsiteMike considered all of these requirements and built a user experience that delivers real value to site visitors.

"Our old website just wasn't cutting it - we needed more functionality and quick response time to any site update requests. After reviewing the site optimization proposal and meeting the WebsiteMike team I felt confident in the results they would deliver."

The Challenges: Centralize Important Info, Tailor the User Experience, Rank for 'Quantitative Systems Biology Center' keyword

Multi-disciplinary institutions often benefit from multi-purpose websites to serve their variety of site traffic.  In this case they are mostly academics from professors and lab directors to post-docs and graduate students.

So how did the WebsiteMike team solve this challenge?

By identifying what information is valuable to different visitor types and creating intuitive ways for visitors to access that information.

Our website optimization services are based around anticipating visitor needs and presenting simple solutions.  Tracked visitor metrics include time on page, mouse movement, scrolling speed, clicks, and more.

"Scientists from all over the world are collaborating to further research and innovation, and we want to play a central facilitating role. Communication at scale is a big part of how we fulfill this role."

The Solutions: Layered Intuitive Interface, Use an LMS, Implement SEO & Backlinking best-practices

To communicate the abundance of important center-related information our team built a layered user interface.

For example, on the People page where the faculty and students are displayed we implemented info cards that flip when the mouse hovers over – revealing the card’s backside displaying more details.

We affectionately refer to this design approach as ‘the onion’ and it usually just goes a few layers deep.  The next solution we implemented is a perfect example.

onion layers The site is built like an onion – there are layers to it – for different visitor types to go deeper into what they are interested in.

The QSBC offers a public facing webinar series with different academic presenters who discuss their research interests.

To create an onion-like framework for the presentations we chose a Learning Management System (LMS) called Tutor LMS that has everything needed to build beautiful courses.

Enveloping all of the above are best-practices for SEO and back-linking (two-way connections to authoritative websites).  We made the site as Google-friendly as possible by using an SEO plugin – we chose Yoast SEO in this case to handle a lot of the heavy technical lifting.

"The solutions being presented were interesting, but in my experience with other web designers that isn't the problem. The problem is speed with both the initial website and with update requests - and it's usually one or the other."

The Results: A Functional and Simple Layout, Educational Outreach, Top 5 Google Ranking in 6 Months

A Functional And Simple Layout

The WebsiteMike team delivered version 1.0 of the website within 2 weeks of starting the project.  Fast turnaround time is essential and we treat it as such.  We knew ahead of time the long-term development of the site would play a critical role in achieving search ranking goals.  So only versions 2.0 and beyond would contain more advanced functionality like the Learning Management System.

QSBC Site Stats Dashboard Site visitor stats are positive during Month 1 of 2021.

Educational Outreach

Once the LMS was implemented the seminars could be shared easily around the world, fulfilling the center’s commitment to education as a member of Vanderbilt University.  Furthermore the LMS facilitates a deeper interaction between instructor and student via a Q & A section.

QSBC CPBP 8328 Course Page

#1 Google Ranking in 6 months

When it comes to climbing the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings the main keyword the center should rank for is Quantitative Systems Biology Center.  By combining technical SEO practices with backlinking the website slowly climbed the ranks to the top.


Combining Fast Turnaround, Content Upkeep & SEO Management, and Relentless Optimization Creates Value in Perpetuity

We believe our clients pay us for the protection, care, and guidance we provide them.  Purchasing our website optimization services is as easy as having a discussion with us about working together.

Contact us or schedule a call.