We sat down with Matt Burns, Digital Content Manager, and Dave Sweeney, Web Manager, and asked them about the challenges that Wake Tech Community College faces in managing and improving their website.

With the mission to provide accessible, high-quality education and training to its students, Wake Tech is committed to fostering success through innovation and learning.

Wake Technical Community College prides itself on offering a wide range of programs designed to empower a diverse student body. Wake Tech serves more than 64,000 adults annually and is North Carolina’s largest community college.

The team behind Wake Tech’s digital transformation

Matt Burns – Digital Content Manager

In early 2022, Matt Burns joined the communications and marketing office at Wake Tech, taking on the role of Digital Content Manager. This strategic move was part of a broader initiative to revamp the college’s digital presence, acknowledging the website’s pivotal role as its primary marketing tool. Previously, the website was managed by a single individual, but recognizing its significance, the decision was made to expand the team. Matt focuses on content creation and management, ensuring that the website’s words speak directly to its diverse audience.

Dave Sweeney – Web Manager

Dave Sweeney, alongside Matt, plays a crucial role in this dynamic duo, focusing on the design aspect of the website as the Web Manager. With the addition of a dedicated IT professional handling the site’s architecture, they’ve taken comprehensive control over the website’s direction. Their collaboration has led to a significant redesign of the site, improving its functionality and aesthetic appeal.

A unified effort for digital excellence

This team’s journey with Silktide began in early 2023, marking a critical phase in their mission to enhance the site’s accessibility and ensure ADA compliance. Dave expresses a shared enthusiasm for the positive feedback on their efforts to improve the site’s accessibility scores.

Both Matt and Dave are driven by a commitment to elevate their website scores, not just for compliance’s sake but to foster a more inclusive digital environment for all users. ADA compliance not only stands as a moral imperative but also as a legal necessity to ward off potential litigation—a trend increasingly observed in the United States.

The website as the main marketing tool

The website is key to Wake Tech’s marketing and recruitment strategy. With over 2.5 million users annually, the site attracts prospective students to a diverse range of degree and non-degree programs. Serving as the largest of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges, Wake Tech’s digital presence directly impacts its enrollment numbers, which in turn influence state funding based on the full-time equivalent (FTE) students metric.

Matt and Dave spearheaded a major redesign to enhance usability and appeal, particularly to new and prospective students. While existing students might navigate the site with ease for specific needs like online learning platforms, it’s the potential students who rely heavily on the site for initial information. This insight drove the team to ensure the redesign catered effectively to this target audience.

Before Matt and Dave joined, the responsibility of web management fell on a single individual, leading to a scattered approach with over 100 people having editing access. This resulted in inconsistencies across the site in both style and tone. Recognizing the need for a unified voice, Matt and Dave reduced the number of active contributors and introduced a moderation system. This system ensures that any changes made by individuals other than the core team are reviewed before going live, maintaining a consistent quality and tone throughout the site.

The challenge with this approach, of course, is that it puts pressure on a small team to ensure all content is accurate, accessible, and on-brand.

“Silktide defines what the issues are, how to fix them, and why it’s important to fix them.”

Dave Sweeney

Web Manager – Wake Tech Community College

Managing the digital presence

The college struggled with maintaining ADA compliance across its website, a critical component in ensuring that all students, including those with disabilities, could access information and resources.

Keeping the content current and engaging was another challenge. They needed a comprehensive solution that could streamline their processes, enhance accessibility, and ensure their website remained a valuable resource for students, faculty, and the community at large.

These challenges led to the search a web management solution.

In their search, they emphasized the need for a platform capable of providing detailed, actionable insights. Silktide’s robust features, particularly its automated accessibility testing, web governance tools, and content management capabilities.

“Silktide was handy. We were able to switch the crawl over from our main site to our development site for a couple of months before we launched. This helped us check the large number of implemented design changes. We wanted to make sure we were still ADA compliant.”

The decision to partner with Silktide was further influenced by the platform’s reputation for excellence and the comprehensive nature of its checks, which stood out as a perfect match for Wake Tech’s needs.

Silktide’s extensive range of checks, including everything from broken links and typos to page load speeds and oversized images, provided a level of scrutiny that was previously unavailable.

What truly sets Silktide apart, as Matt highlighted, is its ability to perform over 200 checks specifically for accessibility, among other critical web health metrics. This granular approach to website analysis ensures that every aspect of the site, no matter how minor, is optimized to meet the highest standards of web accessibility and user experience. “It’s very intuitive, with lots of helpful videos to explain everything”.

“Silktide fills in all of those blanks to make me look like an expert.”

Dave Sweeney

Web Manager – Wake Tech Community College

How Wake Tech uses Silktide

Silktide’s automated accessibility checks were a crucial tool for ensuring ADA compliance, a significant concern for the college due to the risk of litigation. Dave, reflecting on the importance of ADA compliance, noted, “Our big focus is getting these numbers higher for ADA compliance.”

Additionally, Silktide’s SEO tools played a vital role in optimizing Wake Tech’s web presence. Matt highlighted the comprehensive nature of Silktide’s checks, stating, “Silktide checks so many things, including page load speeds, ADA compliance, and content.”

Content management features also received praise for their impact on the college’s website management. The moderation system, as described by Dave, ensures that any changes made by staff members outside the core web team do not go live without review, maintaining a consistent voice and quality across the site.

Silktide’s detailed reports and suggestions for fixes were instrumental in raising their compliance scores.

Wake Tech’s use of Silktide led to tangible improvements.

“Silktide checks so many things, including page load speeds, ADA compliance, and content.”

Matt Burns

Digital Content Manager – Wake Tech Community College

Customer service

Dave and Matt’s feedback on Silktide’s customer service has been overwhelmingly positive. Dave said “the customer service at Silktide is head and shoulders above any other company I think I’ve ever worked with.”

Matt echoes this sentiment and highlights the efficiency and helpfulness of Silktide’s support team: “You guys are the bomb on customer service. I mean, anytime we have an issue, we e-mail you, and we get an answer.”

“The customer service at Silktide is head and shoulders above any other company I think I’ve ever worked with.”

Dave Sweeney

Web Manager – Wake Tech Community College

Future outlook

Looking ahead, Wake Tech plans to continue using Silktide to enhance its website’s accessibility and effectiveness, aiming for an inclusive and engaging online presence for its diverse student body.

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