Nichols College

Student & Admin Friendly

Speedy, mobile-friendly sites support enrollment, help students and make admin easier

Screenshot of Nichols College project

Nichols College provides their students the best in education, but their two websites needed help. The undergraduate website was slow, making it particularly painful for mobile-savvy students to use. Their Graduate & Professional Studies (GPS) site needed a redesign to bring it in-line with the overall brand.

Bright Umbrella joined the Nichols team to address all of these needs (and more!), so that their websites can be useful resources for current and prospective students.


  1. September 2015

    Launched mobile-friendly graduate program site

  2. November 2015

    Converted print catalogs to digital for real-time updates and cost savings

  3. January 2016

    Upgraded multi-site CMS for security and stability

  4. June 2016

    Improved site speed for blazing fast experience, even on mobile

Results Delivered

  • Student-friendly mobile experiences

    • Designed a speedy, mobile-friendly site for GPS, including a real-time digital course catalog
    • Improved speed of main undergraduate site, including the campus directory
  • Better security and stability, less administrative maintenance

    • Updated CMS to the latest stable version of ExpressionEngine
    • Implemented version control systems for more efficient and secure maintenance, including software updates
    • Optimized template layouts for faster, more stable pages
    • Implemented caching for faster, more stable pages
  • Fewer content entry headaches

    • Streamlined GPS content entry to reflect staff’s preferred workflows
    • Reduced staff time producing print catalog with digital catalog that auto-generates PDFs in real time
    • Trained staff in new CMS workflows and provided customized user manual
  • Faster pages, better conversions

    • Improved speed of campus directory, making it easier for staff and students to search and find the people they need
    • Created an online course catalog so students can find the courses they want and print real-time PDFs
    • Implemented a speedy, mobile-friendly application for GPS so students can register for courses online
    • Reduced page load times by more than 50%, giving Nichols a competitive advantage over other higher ed sites

Services Provided

  • ExpressionEngine CMS Development
  • Information Architecture
  • Responsive Design & Development
  • Training & Documentation
  • Maintenance & Support

Phones, Desktops and Everything In Between

Focusing on Nichols’ goals to improve enrollment conversions and the mobile experience, we revamped the GPS site with a design that better reflects the overall Nichols brand and highlights critical calls-to action like online applications. The new site is mobile-friendly and fast, which improves the student experience and supports growing traffic from mobile users. And Nichols’ marketing department has more peace of mind knowing that content and landing pages are reaching the broadest audience possible.

Improved Device Access With Mobile-Friendly Design

Screenshot of Images of Nichols College Graduate and Professional Studies website in an iMac, iPad and iPhone

Easy for Staff to Add and Edit Content

Beyond the site revamp, we dove deep with GPS staff to understand how they update site content. We listened to their content entry problems and prioritized ways their ExpressionEngine content management system (CMS) can work for them, instead of the other way around. We created content entry processes that save staff time and remove content entry headaches.

Content Shared Across Multiple Sites

Screenshot of Collage of screenshots demonstrating how ExpressionEngine lets Nichols share content between their main site and GPS site

Saving Time and Money with Digital Catalogs

We also converted Nichols’ printed course catalogs to digital. Both GPS and undergraduate catalogs are maintained in the CMS, which makes it easy for staff to update in real time. Students and staff can print the catalogs to PDF on-demand, making it easier (and less expensive!) to update and distribute.

Digitizing Course Catalogs

Screenshot of Collage of screenshots showing Nichols two online catalogs and examples of how students can print as PDFs

Security and Stability for Better Long-Term Maintenance

Because of the great relationship we built with GPS (not to mention the final site), Bright Umbrella then worked with Nichols’ IT department to upgrade the underlying CMS that controls all of the college’s web properties. This upgrade not only boosted the security and stability of the sites, it also streamlined the process for future updates and reduced the time Nichols staff spends on maintenance.

Carefully Managed Upgrade Process

Screenshot of Collage of examples of project management tools and resources Bright Umbrella used for Nichols ExpressionEngine upgrade

50% Faster Pages

Our relationship further evolved, as we worked with Nichols to improve the performance of their main undergraduate site. After we optimized their site, there was a 50% improvement across all speed stats. In fact, their Google PageSpeed server response time improved 70% on average, and pages that used to take more than 5 seconds to load, now load around 2 seconds or less. This performance improvement brings Nichols' primary site in line with (if not better than) competing college websites.

Increased Speed for Increased Conversions

Screenshot of Graph showing before and after results of Nichols 50% overall speed improvement

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