Redesigned DeBlogs Website Hosts Authentic Student Voices

Website shares the DePaul experience with prospective students and parents

Click the screen shot above to visit the redesigned DeBlogs website.
DePaul offers prospective students more options than ever to gain insight into the DePaul experience, from DePaul-hosted social media accounts to the DePaul website. Yet in the search for information, a student’s voice about the DePaul experience is often most valuable to prospective students and their parents.
To better serve this key population, Undergraduate Admission collaborated with EMM’s Web Communications (WebComm) to redesign and launch the new DeBlogs website, offering a bolder, more intuitive design consistent with DePaul branding.
DeBlogs was created in 2009 to educate prospective students and parents about life at DePaul by allowing student bloggers to share experiences inside and outside the classroom in their own words. The student blog program has seen tremendous growth, attracting almost 300,000 readers since the blog’s inception.
Though DeBlogs was a popular resource, the interface and navigation required an update to enhance the user experience. After a year of planning and development with WebComm, the new site launched in SharePoint in October 2014 and features the so-called “responsive” framework, which enables web content to adapt to any size screen while remaining accessible and readable. Content was completely refreshed for the launch, and some of the most popular blog posts through the years were migrated to the new site as well.
Admission populates the site through eight paid student bloggers who together create new content weekly throughout the academic year. The bloggers span all of DePaul’s colleges and cover myriad topics, like the admission process (for example, auditioning for the Theatre School), navigating DePaul, and experiences in jobs and internships (such asteaching in Peru). Students are encouraged to write about whatever topics are relevant to their DePaul experience. This authenticity is impacting prospective students’ enrollment; many have shared that DeBlogs was a key influencer in their decision to attend DePaul. 
In addition to the redesign, a new series of blog posts was released in December specifically for the holiday season (a time when readership tends to dip due to the winter break). The 10 posts, collectively titled “Season of Service,” were produced in collaboration with writers from EMM’s Marketing Communications.  Students shared about community service projects they performed during the holiday break and reflections on the role of service in their lives at DePaul. Each post, beginning with the words “Service is” highlights a different aspect of giving back, from sustainability to leadership to the rewarding and social aspects of volunteering.
As the winter quarter began, the new DeBlogs site received 2,000 page views in the first two weeks of January—75 percent of which were from new visitors. To maximize the potential of this resource in recruitment, DeBlogs content is integrated into the traditional undergraduate admission communication plan. Targeted posts related to application deadlines (for example, the upcoming May 1 deposit deadline) and on-campus events are sent to segmented populations through email and social networks.
Moving forward, Admission plans to connect more targeted posts with prospective students and increase the diversity of the blogger pool. If you have any questions about DeBlogs or recommendations for student bloggers, contact Rob Galarza, communications and technology specialist in Undergraduate Admission.