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National Park College

The National Park College was facing two challenges at the same time: accessibility issues and an ineffective search solution.

Stéphane Recouvreur

Stéphane Recouvreur 05 September 2022

National Park College

Serving over 7,500 students per year, National Park College is located 45 minutes southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, and is the fourth-largest community college in the state. The External Affairs office is responsible for managing the College’s brand, advertising, media relations and communications as well as web development.

Industry

Higher Education

Products

Search

Accessibility issues

For years, the NPC web team has been lacking proper tools to check accessibility compliance, resulting in unsatisfactory website usability that greatly affected their users.

Their site search tool was also largely underutilised and ineffective.

the web team at NPC was therefore looking for a solution that could help solve two problems at once: identify and correct WCAG accessibility issues and improve the search experience for their users.

A 93.5% error reduction

In collaboration with Squiz, NPC implemented Funnelback search. Their primary focus was to solve their accessibility challenge by using Funnelback’s accessibility tools to identify WCAG errors.

The results provided them with data-driven insights and suggestions to improve accessibility to comply with WCAG standards. It also helped them to review content quality and identify content that was duplicated.

“The transition was quick and painless...with little time investment from our staff. The team at Squiz was exceptional,” says Melony Martinez, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at NPC.

Within the first year, NPC achieved a 93.5% decrease in accessibility issues, from well over 200,000 compliance errors to just 13,000.

Improving search results

When it comes to search, NPC wanted to regain full control over its search appearance and ranking results.

First, NPC started to integrate its website, but also all its different databases into Funnelback search to return richer, more complete, results. For example, users can now search through the NPC staff directory or NPC social media right from the search bar.

Databases

Second, to offer a more efficient and robust search solution to its users, NPC implemented the concierge search functionality.

Within a few keystrokes, autosuggestion surfaces content that is most important to NPC, driving traffic to high-value content such as programs and events.

Concierge

To help users find the right information without completing multiple searches, filters (also called faceted navigation) were implemented to assist them in drilling down search results based on pre-specified categories.

Categories

NPC also implemented “synonyms” to account for varying language differences between internal jargon and external audiences, and guide users toward more relevant results.

For example, linking “dorms” to “housing” ensures the most relevant results for a query with the same intent.

Synonyms

A search dashboard

Creating a robust search solution helped NPC understand that search data is valuable.

“The results we were able to accomplish far exceeded what we originally believed was feasible with our small web staff,” explains Melony.

The marketing team was now able to leverage data on popular search terms, unanswered queries, and curated results to make better-informed decisions about their navigation and overall usability, facilitating the creation of a shorter and better user journey.

In line with the strategic goals of the college, the team was now able to share KPIs with their leadership in the form of an all-in-one dashboard to improve web governance, and visibility, and provide actionable insights.

The marketing team can now report on how visitors are searching the site and what they’re searching for and focus on the top unanswered queries to identify content gaps and opportunities.