Pittsburgh Technical College

PTC provides academic programs in high-demand career fields and offers students an opportunity to pursue a career in two years or less. When PTC came to us again for help redesigning their site, we jumped at the chance to work with a previous client and to help PTC take on the challenge of communicating with a wide range of audiences.

Ptc Design Collage

The Challenge

Pittsburgh Technical College, and higher-ed institutions like them, face the ongoing challenge of communicating with a wide variety of audiences while also staying relevant and engaging to each. When you consider the need to serve prospective and current students, parents, alumni, faculty & staff, you can start to imagine how varied their user base really is. What is most important to one group of people is not as important to another.

And because of the ever changing landscape in higher-ed, technology evolution, and prospective student interests there can be a need to evolve and adapt constantly.

Their new website needed to build on the previous redesign efforts and provide even easier ways for those audiences to find what they were looking for, quickly. While also providing visual ways to show all that PTC has to offer.

A lot of the existing content had been recently developed and was going to stay in place. So we also had the challenge of integrating a new design into their existing ExpressionEngine CMS and some of the content structure that was already established. While also allowing PTC to continue to update content on a frequent basis.

Our Approach

We originally worked with PTC in 2012 on a redesign of their website. Over the years, we've provided ongoing design and development support, along with customizations to their ExpressionEngine CMS based website.

When the time came for PTC to redesign again, they reached out to Clearfire to see if we were interested. Having worked with PTC on the previous redesign, we were excited to dive back in.

First, we dove into analytics, heat maps, and other data points to get a sense of how existing users were interacting with the site. We identified some key, high volume pages, and sections, and made sure to account for those in our redesign efforts.

We then spent time working with PTC on more detailed audience definition, ideal user flows, goal funnels, sitemapping, and other user experience ideas.

Ptc Sitemap

With a clear direction established and existing content to work with, we went through our design phase, creating a variety of layouts and concepts for all the various sections of the site. Homepage, landing pages, news, events, programs, student life, galleries, eCommerce, and more. With a large site like this, there were a lot of design elements to consider. Along the way, we created visual style guides to help consolidate key elements of the design.

Ptc Style Guide
Ptc Program Side By Side
Ptc Admissions Lander
Ptc Section Lander

As we started on the development portion of the project, we needed to consider options for integrating the designs into their existing ExpressionEngine CMS, while also allowing for the ongoing update of content. As you can imagine, content is regularly being added or changed across the site.

What we came up with were some solutions for PTC to be able to maintain existing content, while adding or updating new content in a side by side fashion. This allowed the designs to be implemented in a way that could show newer content in our staging environment and for design review while keeping the existing site updated regularly. At the launch of the redesign, we also wrote import and export scripts to migrate other content that needed to be moved to new locations.

Ultimately, the new design was launched, the CMS was upgraded, content was migrated, and their audience was given a better experience for engaging with PTC.

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