OHO Hardin-Simmons University

Double-Digit Enrollment Growth

With an eye on reversing a negative enrollment trend, Hardin-Simmons University – a private Baptist school in Abilene, Texas – sought to define a brand messaging platform and overhaul its website to engage prospective students and increase applications. OHO replaced the outdated design, disjointed navigation, and confusing calls-to-action with a revamped content strategy and new design, built on the WordPress platform. The results: within a year, applications and yield increases were in the double digits.

  • Higher Education
  • Website Redesign
  • Content Strategy
  • Digital Strategy
  • User Research

Services

  • Strategy
  • User Research
  • User Experience
  • Visual Design
  • Content Strategy
  • CMS Development
  • Ongoing Support
The Hardin-Simmons homepage displayed on a laptop
The Hardin-Simmons website displayed on a laptop

Research Insights Lead to a Brand Messaging Platform

Following from the motto – “An Education Enlightened by Faith” – we developed a three-pillar messaging architecture. The homepage highlights these three differentiators, and the content across the site levels up to support these pillars.

The Hardin-Simmons website displayed on a mobile device

A Prospect-Focused Website Structure

Consolidating three competing navigation structures into a single primary navigation, while moving all faculty and staff information into a dedicated section, improved access to key information for prospective students while providing a much simpler, more accessible user experience for all site users.

 

The Hardin-Simmons website displayed on a tablet device

Flexible Publishing with WordPress

With a distributed publishing structure and a well-defined governance plan — paired with the ease of content editing in WordPress — the HSU team can focus on using the site as a strategic marketing tool, rather than wrestling with content updates.

Leading with Brand Messages

The homepage is focused on re-introducing HSU to a wider audience, with the brand pillars framing the narrative. Each pillar is supported with first-person student storytelling.

The HSU homepage displayed on a smartphone

Launching the Content Strategy with Student Stories

To bring the sense of "family" to life, the site uses student stories – each with a supporting video – to highlight the key messages of affordability, enlightened faith, academic excellence, HSU family, and outcomes. Leveraging tags in WordPress, the stories are published across the site to add personal context to more evergreen content.

  • An example of a student story on the Hardin-Simmons University website
  • A second example of a student story on the Hardin-Simmons University website
  • A third example of a student story on the Hardin-Simmons University website
  • A fourth example of a student story on the Hardin-Simmons University website

Double-Digit Enrollment Impact

30%

Increase in Applications Year-Over-Year

20%

Increase in Deposits Year-Over-Year