USD Website Redesign Process

This is the process that the USD web team undergoes for a website redesign and accounts for all phases and steps from start to finish. For schools and departments transitioning into the new design, only items marked with a will be accounted for if .

Strategic Vision and Direction

This phase helps determine the future priorities of the new website and identifies the core/primary audience that the school or department is trying to reach.

  • Purpose: to speak with representatives in key areas to determine website goals and priorities

  • Who: Designers, Developers, Key Stakeholders

    • University Communications

    • Undergraduate/Graduate Admissions

    • Marketing Liaisons

    • Other key stakeholders from divisions across campus

  • What: Interviews

  • Deliverables: Website goals and priorities

Research and Discovery

This phase helps uncover whether the department/school's perceptions are aligned with their audience's perceptions. These findings are the basis for later decisions regarding site architecture, navigation, and design.

  • Purpose:

    • Develop a common data set to establish a baseline across various audiences within USD and each department/school

    • Understand current and past students' perception and experiences with the school

    • Review prospective students' desires and needs

  • Who: Data Analyst, Key Stakeholders

  • What:

    • External data

      • Surveys:

        • Prospective Students

        • Current Students

        • Faculty

        • Administration and Staff

        • Outside Community (Alumni and Donors)

      • Focus Groups

    • Internal data

      • Analytics review (1-year and 6-month period)

      • Heat map review (Hotjar)

      • Competitive analysis of peer/aspirational schools (5)

  • Deliverables: Comprehensive data analysis

Information Architecture and Content Strategy

  • Purpose: Academic areas to review their existing website structure and determine pages to consolidate, new pages needed, areas of improvement

  • Who: Data Analyst, Stakeholders, Content Strategist

  • What:

    • Align data analysis, core messages priorities and project goals

    • Establish challenges that need to be solved and content that needs to be accounted for

    • Develop brand personality document

    • Develop user personas that reflect school's target audience

    • Create content/navigation structure for website

    • Run card-sorting meeting(s) to create high-level content and navigation structure

    • Establish content strategy and content direction for all writing and editing planned

  • Deliverables: Information Architecture, User Personas, Brand Personality Document

Content Audit and Development

Based on the findings in previous stages supporting content must be created and edited following the new architecture that is in place for the website.

  • Who: Content Strategist, Stakeholder

  • What:

    • Complete a gap analysis and determine content that is needed

    • Revise content for core messaging and SEO best practices

    • Set up content aggregation system for collaborative writing, editing, and planning if needed

  • Deliverables: New and updated content for website

Design Sprints - Applying Camino Components

Maintainers have the ability to create dynamic pages using components in the Camino component library. During a redesign, Design Sprint workshops are conducted in which the Web Team provides additional consultation. Using prepared content from the marketing or content partners, the web team works to rapidly create layouts using the USD Design System. 

  • Who: Designer (lead), Developer, Content Strategist, Stakeholder, Project Manager

  • What:

    • Design Sprint

      • Workshops to help develop pages

      • Review global component library to see what existing components can be leveraged

      • *IF new feature is needed:

        • Audit proposed features based on user value, technical difficulty, and content feasibility

        • Design and develop new feature

        • **Fold into global component library

      • Designer to produce wireframe and user flows for main pages

      • Draft a design of main pages based on project goals, data analysis, and user personas

      • Build interactive prototypes in (software) to test on multiple devices

      • Conduct accessibility review to ensure best practices are adhered to in terms of font, color, readability and usability.

  • Deliverables: Direction in the form of wireframes and layouts for developing new web pages

Usability Testing

  • Who: ULab Manager, Designers, Developers

  • What:

    • Review prototypes with Stakeholder in a Usability Prep Session to review proposed design and detail process for feedback and design evolution

    • Work with Admission offices to participate in campus tour check-in process and query prospective students and their parents

    • Stakeholder to participate to acquire first-hand feedback and information about the design/site in progress

    • Coordinate participation and offer incentives for increased interest

    • Follow-up with A/B surveys to be e-mailed to selected audiences for fine-tuning of design, functionality, and user experience

    • Conduct content review with Content Strategist for home page to ensure content direction is in line with evolved design

    • Review anticipated user flows with Developers at the end of the usability process to ensure that website integration and behaviors are thought out ahead of development and programming.

  • Deliverables: Design files that have gone through iterative changes as a result of user feedback


  • Who: Designers, Developers

  • What:

    • Design and build website shell

      • Header

      • Footer

      • Navigation

      • Global elements that go on every page

    • Design and build components

      • Shared components that can be leveraged on any page based on need and audience

  • Deliverables: Design treatment on all components and shell elements for new website.

Component Build

Most of the site build is accounted for via Camino. Available components are stored centrally and used throughout the website. If it is determined that new components (i.e. features) are needed, then they are developed and added to the component library for general use.

  • Who: Developer (lead), Q/A, Designer

  • What:

    • Front-end/back-end development using React framework

    • Storybook as the front-end interactive tool

    • Integration into Cascade and/or peripheral system

  • Deliverable: New component(s) for use on any USD website.

Photography and Media Sourcing

Funding is handled through the customer department and needed assets are based on a shot sheet provided during the project.

  • Who: Stakeholder

  • What:

    • Identify imagery for site-specific components such as:

      • Hero areas

      • Billboards

      • Other interior images as needed

    • Photo shoots to be coordinated and art directed

    • Post-production completed on all photos by photographer

    • ITS can assist with 

      • Photographer bidding if needed

      • Design guidance, photography, and post-production

      • Seeking art direction assistance via University Communications or other vendor

  • Deliverable: Final photography incorporated into new website

Content Migration and Site Build

Content written and edited earlier in the project is migrated to the new site, and new imagery, related documents, and other elements are added to the new site.

  • Who: CMS Admin/Developer (lead), Designer

  • What:

    • Using content migration script:

      • Build all folders and pages within Cascade Sever on development server

      • Transition content and other information as specified in GatherContent (or similar)

      • Integrate page titles, keywords, and descriptions for SEO

    • Integrate photography and related documents

    • Build and test forms as needed and/or migrate them to Salesforce/FormAssembly

    • Account for redirects (to be imported and processed prior to launch)

  • Deliverable: Beta Site for Q/A

Q/A, Testing, Site Review

As the development process winds down, there is a final review of site with team and a beta site URL is sent to key parties for internal site review. Final testing is done across supported web browsers and viewports to ensure functionality and usability.

  • Who: Q/A (lead), Stakeholder, Content Strategist, Team

  • What:

    • QA testing

      • Conduct testing scenarios to double check functionality, features, and design of new site

      • All supported browsers and devices used for testing

      • Issues logged into bug-tracking system (e.g. JIRA) and assigned for resolution and follow-up validation

      • Site validation for HTML and CSS

      • Site validation for Section 508 compliance, including, but not limited to, the following:

        • Consecutive headings

        • Table markup

        • Web form markup

        • Video markup

        • Text-based PDFs

      • Link checking

      • Form functionality

    • Beta site URL sent to key parties for site review

      • Stakeholder(s)

      • Content strategist

    • Feedback collection solution provided for tracking edits, changes, requests, etc.

    • W3C validator check (home page and template for global issues)

    • Comments collected and minor tweaks can be made, however most items will likely go into Phase 2

  • Deliverable: Documentation, QA’d website with changes and corrections applied.

Content Maintenance Training and Governance

Content transition and content fill are facilitated through the use of USD's CMS (Cascade Server), which is the university's current web maintenance platform. Maintainers are identified in conjunction with the department overseeing the area of website, whether the core site, school website, or a departmental site. Training is provided by University Web Services staff through the IT Training program.

  • Who: Training/Documentation Coordinator (lead)

  • What:

    • Cascade Server CMS class taught by University Web Services and offered to maintainers

      • List of maintainers needed

      • Custom training will be scheduled closer to site launch date

    • Workflow process identified and applied to new site so there is content/technical review present

      • Content review: someone in school will be responsible for maintaining integrity of messaging and website purpose in all website edits and additions

      • Technical review: USD web team will be responsible for ensuring technical functionality of all pages prior to publishing

    • Introduction of editorial style guide and how writing, editing, and site maintenance will be governed by the school moving forward will also be shared and introduced at this time

  • Deliverable: Cascade Server Training


The site launch occurs roughly 1-2 weeks after final testing is completed and the site is reviewed for content accuracy, at which point the old website is removed from the USD web server and the new one is posted in its place.

  • Who: Team

  • What:

    • Launch 

      • Archive old site and publish new site

      • Process redirects

        • Text file provided with original/destination URLs

        • Web Services imports and test redirects

        • Final redirects completed within 30 minutes of launch

        • Communication with ITS Help Desk about timing

  • Deliverable: New website

Post Launch

  • Who: Stakeholder

  • What:

    • Access to site via Cascade Server provided to maintainers (if needed)

    • Announcement about new site as needed by the school and ITS

    • Identify and plan future needs, elements or functionality that will keep the site fresh and dynamic

  • Deliverable: Communication and Publication

    • Submission of site URL to higher education and recognition websites

    • Communication through USD social media provided by University Communications

    • Article in News Center by University Communications