Moving the National Partnership for Educational Access to WordPress
The National Partnership for Educational Access, an initiative of The Steppingstone Foundation, is a membership organization for programs that provide underrepresented students with academic preparation, placement services and counseling, and ongoing support to ensure college enrollment and graduation.
NPEA staff spend a lot of time making sure that underrepresented students have opportunities that will benefit their future. Through its national conference, resources, and professional development opportunities, NPEA helps its members support quality educational access for underserved students.
We recently hired RainStorm to assist us with moving our website from an outdated platform to WordPress and I have nothing but praise for RainStorm! They handled the project for us with skill and professionalism and we were able to make the transition in a painless, timely manner – not an easy task – at an especially busy time for us. We are so pleased with the results. I highly and without hesitation recommend RainStorm.
— Karin Elliott | Executive Director, National Partnership for Educational Access
Last fall, NPEA found itself underserved—by its own website. The site, which had served them well for many years, was originally created on legacy website development software that would not run on their newest computers. NPEA’s resourceful staff resorted to keeping an “old” version of the outdated software so they could maintain their website, but it was clear to them that this was not a sustainable solution.
In addition, the website was not mobile-friendly and its content was not organized well for modern search engines. The website was also inflexible: top navigation was locked in place by design and extra menus were required on inside pages to allow for expanding content. If a page URL was changed, including section-specific menus appearing on different pages, it had to be manually updated on every page it appeared. And finally, content changes, pages, files, and images had to be uploaded via FTP. Successful updating of the site required a lot of unnecessary work.
In late fall, NPEA decided that it was time to work with RainStorm to move the website to WordPress.
RainStorm’s goals were to:
- Design a WordPress template which closely resembled the existing design
- Develop a custom WordPress theme to meet NPEA’s needs
- Install and configure the new website
- Import critical content
- Train NPEA staff to manage the site using WordPress
The complexity of a conversion to WordPress is entirely dependent on the way the original site is set up. Because the NPEA site was generally straightforward and had a universal design, translating that design into a WordPress theme was easily achievable.
Content is the most critical part of a website, and no two content migrations are alike. In this case, NPEA’s staff tackled the hard work of selecting a subset of pages to include in the new site and editing those pages so they would be import-ready. Often older sites, particularly static HTML sites, have massive amounts of data tucked away in the corners of their hosting spaces; from old pages that have been renamed but never overwritten, to files and graphics that haven’t been utilized in years. NPEA did an incredible job of making sure that RainStorm knew just what had to come over to the new website.
Because the old site had a static menu, with deeper content linked on sub-pages, many pages had to be reorganized to fit into a more standard hierarchy system. This process is one of fine-tuning, but it’s important because it is the basis of the new site navigation.
Clearly, the first benefit was that NPEA staff could easily update the website!
Staff were no longer shackled to their old in-office computer, but instead were now able to update their site from any device, anywhere in the world, thanks to WordPress’ web-based interface.
RainStorm was also able to translate the original site’s design and make minor updates to allow a modern mobile-responsive design to view on phones and tablets, build in stronger navigation and menus, and incorporate social media feeds.
Some of the other benefits brought about by this change were:
- Common page elements (menus and sidebars) could be changed in a single place
- Standardized content styles, like colors, fonts, and heading sizes
- Simpler login process from any computer, tablet, or phone with web browser, requiring no specialized programs or FTP
- Stronger information architecture, making information easier to find
- Drop-down menus and a natural page hierarchy
- Drag-and-drop media library which made file and image uploading easy
- WordPress’ native WYSIWYG editor, making it easy to edit pages without coding knowledge
- Wider design for today’s larger monitors
A site conversion is a real partnership. It takes dedication from both the organization and the developer to make things go smoothly.
We had a great experience working with NPEA and are proud to have provided them with a modern, mobile-friendly site that’s easy to manage and will ensure that their own needs are well-served into the future.