Carroll University


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Carroll University is a pioneer in higher education – Wisconsin’s first four-year institution of higher learning. Founded in 1846 and grounded in a strong liberal arts tradition, Carroll provides a superior education rooted in its Presbyterian and liberal arts heritage, and strives to prepare all students for vocational success, lifelong learning, and service in a diverse and global society. Carroll needed a website that was able to effectively serve a wide range of audiences and drive enrollment, support current students, and boost alumni engagement.

carroll university logo

Corralling the Content

Carroll’s existing site lacked mobile-friendly features and social media integration, and the volume of content made the site overwhelming to visitors who were trying to track down essential information. The site was targeting multiple audiences but didn’t have a clear user path for each, which led to visitors getting lost in a maze of links with no breadcrumbs or consistent navigation.

The website also needed to effectively capture leads in a single system, rather than the set of disparate systems and multiple forms that were in place on the legacy site. Site administrators dreamed of a content management system (CMS) that would simplify their multi-department content approval workflows and website updates and enable them to spend more time working directly with students, parents, and alumni.

Ascedia worked with branding agency partner Boelter + Lincoln to develop a digital marketing strategy to increase Carroll’s qualified leads and boost engagement on the website. 

multiple audiences

A Site for All Audiences

Ascedia’s strategic planning process uncovered a set of user personas that frequently visit the site, and this list of personas helped the team develop clear user journeys with associated content. By analyzing each type of visitor independently – prospective and current students, parents, and alumni – Ascedia was able to organize and structure the vast amounts of content. 

Every visitor has a consistent brand experience and are now able to quickly find what they’re looking for on Carroll’s site. The website was redesigned to support multiple audiences and allows users to self-identify and easily access the information that is most relevant to them. The team outlined a list of the most important features to each visitor type and found the optimal ways to structure content to support their unique goals. 

user experience design

Creating Order Through Navigation

The Carroll University website has a lot of content – and all of it serves a purpose! Through user journey research and persona development, Ascedia developed a set of navigational paths to support different goals on the website. The “mega menu” provides a simple starting point for users accessing the website, and is mobile-friendly to support visitors who are looking for information on the go.

The site is organized by various departments, from admissions and financial aid to student services and campus life. In addition, a second set of navigation options are organized by user profile. Prospective students, current students, international students, parents, and alumni have a clear starting point that directs them to the content that is most relevant to them.

template user experience

Workflows + Widgets = Flexibility

Ascedia leveraged Kentico EMS to create a flexible structure for Carroll’s website. The site is built using widgets, which are building blocks that can be repeated on multiple pages throughout the site. This allows Carroll’s team to create a consistent user experience across the website while giving the administrators flexibility in working with content.

Kentico’s portal engine allowed Ascedia to build pages and templates that can be reused across the site. The team also built the website to integrate with both new and existing third-party tools. This allowed administrators in different departments to continue to use the platforms they were accustomed to while also enabling adoption of more efficient systems where appropriate.

In addition, Ascedia developed the site according to WCAG AA Compliance standards, to ensure all of Carroll’s website visitors could use the site.

CMS administration

Administrative Support

Ascedia created a 64-page training guide to help Carroll’s marketing resources learn the administrative features of their new website. The guide provides quick instruction on using the new widget functionality to help users get up and running quickly and allow them to make content enhancements on the fly.

website results


In the weeks after the site’s launch, Carroll’s administrators received positive feedback from students and alumni on the new user experience. The university’s digital brand is cohesive and visitors have a consistent experience across platforms. The school has renewed confidence in directing users to its website, as it offers a clear path to relevant information and easy ways for users to reach out or send in an application.

In addition, the University has experienced the following results:

  • More Conversions: 19% increase in applications
  • Visit Growth: 14% increase in new users to the website
  • Improved SEO Value: 15.6% increase in the number of new users generated from organic search traffic
  • Better Content Exploration: 18% increase in average time spent on the website

The Carroll University website also won the 2017 Kentico Site of the Year in the Best Education and Career site category.

Site Of The Year User's Choice Award Winner 2017