About MiraCosta College
MiraCosta College is a public community college in north San Diego County, California, with two campuses and a Community Learning Center and Technology Career Institute in satellite locations. The school offers associate degrees and one bachelor’s degree in biomanufacturing.
degree & certificate programs
With a CMS purpose-built for higher education, MiraCosta transformed its website into a dynamic marketing and communications tool. It’s also pandemic-proof.
A higher ed website is the number one marketing and communications tool for colleges and universities. It’s the first touch—the first impression—for students, staff, and donors. More than any other campus resource, students and employees turn to our website as a trusted source of information.
Brand Consistency: consistent design features across web pages
Usability: an easy-to-use CMS that includes a single sign-on component
Updates: content contributors empowered to create, revise and edit content as needed
Accessibility: simple updates from any location and from any device
A discontinued CMS was hard to use and required on-site, device-specific sign-in, making it impossible for the MiraCosta College web team to update web pages and enforce brand consistency in a timely manner.
How do you manage a higher ed website using a discontinued content management system (CMS)? With a lot of headaches, workarounds, redundancies and depletion of staff and time resources, according to Kristen Huyck, Director, Public & Governmental Relations, Marketing & Communications for MiraCosta College.
For years, MiraCosta College had been cobbling their higher ed website together with Contribute, an Adobe product last updated in 2012. By 2019, it was apparent that an institution-wide CMS switch could no longer be deferred.
“There are horror stories about working with our old websites. It wasn’t the updates that took most of our time; it was using the actual CMS. For example, I work from multiple campuses but for some reason the CMS wouldn’t run on my District computer. So, even though I was responsible for our website, I couldn’t access it. Every change had to go to the web designer.” — Kristen Huyck
Huyck and her team identified several features they desired in a new CMS:
- Brand Consistency: consistent design features across web pages
- Usability: an easy-to-use CMS that includes a single sign-on component
- Updates: content contributors empowered to create, revise and edit content as needed
- Accessibility: simple updates from any location and from any device
At the same time, the MiraCosta team decided to tackle a complete website redesign. It was imperative that the new CMS accommodate a complex migration from multiple websites and integrations with standard higher ed systems.
“This was more than a website redesign; it was an attempt to create a website design that all community colleges in California could use. Knowing that students visit and use multiple college websites, we wanted the experience to be consistent and easy statewide—no matter what college website they visited.” — Kristen Huyck
A higher ed CMS purpose-built for intuitive navigation and brand consistency, ease of use and the ability to update content immediately, anytime, anywhere transformed the MiraCosta College website into a dynamic marketing and communications tool. Unexpectedly, it’s also pandemic-proof.
After consulting with the IT, marketing and administrative departments at other colleges and universities, Huyck and her team ultimately chose Omni CMS.
“Strong references from peer institutions factored into our decision, along with the many features provided by Omni CMS." — Kristen Huyck
Intuitive Website Navigation
In hindsight, Huyck would have deleted outdated webpages from each website before migrating to save time. However, working through such pages gave the team insight into the best way to create a logical navigational hierarchy designed around the way that students actually interacted with their website.
“I likened the migration to a house remodel. We had all of our files within the CMS, but it was like having toilets in our living room—they weren’t in the right place, but at least we had toilets! Ultimately, migration took more time than we anticipated, but it also forced us to think outside the box and strategize on the best way to structure the website.” — Kristen Huyck
Reflecting the school’s brand was also a priority early on. MiraCosta College is a forward-thinking, student-centric institution, but that message wasn’t clearly illustrated on their old website.
“The need for brand consistency is critical on the website, which often serves as the first thing students, employees and the community see. With the use of CMS, folks can easily be provided with various degrees of access to ensure there are checks and balances within the website.” — Kristen Huyck
Ease of Use
Fed up with how complicated it was to use their old CMS, the MiraCosta team welcomed the simplicity and ease of use that Omni CMS customers enjoy. They also took advantage of the limitless pages that Omni CMS allows schools to produce.
These two benefits were gamechangers for Huyck’s marketing efforts. In the past, it was almost impossible to track ROI from postcards, texts and mailings that the college sent out to prospective students.
“Now, I can build out a different landing page for each campaign for tracking purposes. It’s easy to create pages, and they don’t look horrible. None of us are web designers by trade, so the ability to copy a page or change out a picture allows us to pull campaigns together quickly.” — Kristen Huyck
With Omni CMS, designated content contributors can now revise and create web pages quickly and easily within predefined user permissions—no more bottlenecks waiting on one person to make changes to the site.
“Omni CMS empowers our content contributors while providing checks and balances for consistency and web governance. Omni also features version auditing, so we can see what is being changed and revert back if necessary. Plus, I teach in the classroom, so during implementation, I could show pages to students for their input, then make changes immediately. They could see their feedback go into effect immediately and know that their voice was being heard. It was the same with faculty and staff. Before Omni CMS, I’d have to blame the CMS for not being able to make changes.” — Kristen Huyck
Understanding that the website is the college’s front door, Huyck appreciated that with Omni CMS, she could now make changes from any location and on any device. Even better, a single sign-on component eliminated the need to log into several different systems to make a simple change.
“Frequently, I get urgent calls to make a website change, and I’ve had to pull over and literally update the website from my phone. But with Omni CMS, it’s not a problem. It takes me no time to make changes and keep the website up to date.” — Kristen Huyck
Huyck has always viewed the MiraCosta website as the most important marketing and communications tool at her disposal. This was especially apparent when the pandemic hit in early 2020. Overnight, implementing the new site became a necessity. Thankfully, employee training had already begun, so when the new website implementation was rushed to get online in July 2020, all faculty and staff were ready.
“With the pandemic, our website became a critical source for all campus information—even information that had not been included on our site before. Anything printed for that spring, such as class schedules, never saw the light of day. It also became the most up-to-date and accurate source for updates on campus hours, such as tutoring and counseling schedules and ever-changing health information. More than any other campus resource, students and employees turn to our website as a trusted source of information. This isn’t a temporary fix; the idea of our campus website being a comprehensive source of information is here to stay.” — Kristen Huyck
It’s been a year since MiraCosta College fully made the switch to Omni CMS, and the results have been impressive. In 14 months, the number of website users has increased 68% and page views are up 63%. Session time is also 5.5% shorter, an indication that website visitors are able to find the information they need more quickly.
MiraCosta College's website, by the numbers
increase in page views since switching to Omni CMS
increase in website users
decrease in time that it takes a website user to find the information they need
With implementation complete, Huyck sees this as just the beginning of the school’s digital transformation.
“We never want to be done with our website. Now, we’re asking how we can challenge ourselves to make it better, how can we simplify the experience even more for students and how can we become experts in personalization, which is the next big shift in higher ed.” — Kristen Huyck
Fortunately, MiraCosta College won’t have to go it alone. Along with Omni CMS, the college has also implemented a suite of Modern Campus products, including Destiny One for non-traditional student management, and Acalog for catalog management. With these tools, the web team can stay up to date and focused on the work at hand instead of contemplating what technology needs to be updated.
“We get very focused on our tasks and often don’t have the time to stay current on technology or even how different systems integrate with each other. But Omni CMS is the number one CMS for community colleges. It’s nice to have a partner like Modern Campus that maintains and updates our system with features before we know we even need them.” — Kristen Huyck
How MiraCosta College Shifted to a Student-First Engagement Model in a Crisis
MiraCosta doesn't stop at a great CMS. The college also uses Modern Campus to support and grown its Continuing Education and Workforce Development.
About Modern Campus
Modern Campus is obsessed with empowering its 1,200+ higher education customers to thrive when radical transformation is required to respond to lower student enrollments and revenue, rising costs, crushing student debt and even school closures.
Powered by Omni CMS, DIGARC, Presence and Destiny One, the Modern Campus modern learner engagement platform enables innovative institutions to create a “learner to earner” lifecycle that engages modern learners for life.
Delivering massive personalization, AI-driven recommendations and a modern e-commerce engine, Modern Campus creates a student-first digital experience and removes silos across campus. Presidents and provosts, marketing and IT teams, admissions, registrars, student affairs and CE divisions can partner to attract, enroll, empower, retain, credential and re-engage students with pathways for lifelong learning.