With its new modernized web portal, Chalmers in Sweden is now at the cutting edge of website design among the world's universities. The new portal is strengthening the Chalmers's brand and making it easier for the university to attract new students and partners.
Sweden used to be one of the few countries in the world where foreign students could study for free at universities. But now Sweden has introduced tuition fees for students who are not citizens of an EU or EES country. The money from fees will be used to raise the quality of education at Swedish universities. As a consequence, marketing has become much more important for universities in Sweden.
"The biggest benefit of our new web portal is the way it improves our communication with stakeholders and strengthens our brand. Now it's easier for us to attract foreign students, sponsors and companies with research projects," says Tony Ottosson Gadd, CIO at Chalmers.
Outdated website needed to be modernized
The old website of the university functioned well but started to become outdated. Information on web pages was static and the design was old-fashioned. Visitors had no way to communicate interactively. The site had a hierarchical structure. Searching and finding information was difficult.
"The website was 'messy' and it was intended for internal, as well as external, visitors," says Tony Ottosson Gadd. We decided that the new portal should be designed exclusively to serve external visitors. An intranet for internal visitors will be built on the same platform later."
Choice fell on SharePoint 2010
The former site used an antiquated open-source platform that could not be developed any more. The IT Department wanted to base the new website on a standard product that could be evolved over time. The choice fell on SharePoint 2010. Sogeti, an IT consulting company, helped build the beta version of the solution and upgraded it to the final version during the course of the project.
"We set the goal high when we decided to invest in a new web portal. We wanted to build a modern website that would at the cutting edge of design among the world's universities. We achieved this. This project has been a huge success."
Among Swedish universities, Chalmers in Gothenburg, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, and Lund University in Lund are the schools that receive the most applications from international students.
"Our new website is probably one of the reasons. There are indications as well that we have become more attractive to companies that can support Chalmers's research in different ways. This, in turn, can lead to increased research grants from government research councils."
New portal launched in beginning of October 2010
"We purposefully launched the new portal quietly, without making a big thing of it. But we quickly received many comments that the website had improved greatly, especially from our students and employees, and from our colleagues at other universities."
"It's simple to search and find information on the new site," continues Tony Ottosson Gadd. It's also much easier for editors and contributors to edit and update information.
We can now embed a lot more pictures and illustrations, compared to before. This has improved the working platform and possibilities for employees in Chalmers's Marketing and Communications Department."
"The staff now has much better possibilities to present information and promote different things and events. The solution energizes them and stimulates their productivity."
"With this dynamic platform, chalmers.se can be further developed to meet new emerging needs. This will happen a lot in the future," says Tony Ottosson Gadd.
By: Måns Widman
To create a web platform that would be more attractive to Chalmers's target groups, market the university's strengths in education and research, and support users with a well functioning search engine and other functionality.
Better website for users. Stronger brand for Chalmers. Now easier to attract new students and partners.
Tony Ottosson Gadd,
Practice & Alliance Manager, Sogeti
Product Manager for SharePoint and Lync, Microsoft
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