Case Study – Earlham College

A catalog and student handbook solution for a liberal arts college.

After years of frustration managing an outdated catalog system, most college staff are ready for change. Earlham College was no different when their team approached us about modernizing their preexisting catalog and student handbook. We had a blast working with their team to migrate their course content to a more user-friendly platform, both for students and staff alike. After launching their new site, we spoke with Mat Marsh, Earlham College’s Completion Systems Analyst, about the process and their new catalog system.

The Challenges

Prior to switching to Clean Catalog, Earlham College was using a Wordpress website to host their course catalog. Since Wordpress is primarily a blogging-based CMS, it lacked the functionality needed for managing higher ed course information. The backend of their Wordpress site was also a bottleneck for staff making edits, and there was no editorial workflow capability for approving new content. Earlham stores their catalog data within Banner, and Wordpress’ lack of Banner integration created another hurdle for catalog management. Marsh reflects that “this resulted in a manual, error-prone process that required double-checking and manual synchronization of data. It often led to inaccuracies, delays in updates, and an overall inefficient workflow.”

The Process

The first stage of the Clean Catalog build-out process begins with content migration. The Earlham staff simply shared the link to their current Wordpress site, along with credentials for Banner. As we transferred course content to their new Clean Catalog CMS, we combed the data for any inconsistencies, typos, and contradictory information to remedy. With their course content “living” within their new platform, we then began fine-tuning the user-interface and functionality of their new catalog site. Using staff feedback as a compass, we formatted layouts to intuitively reflect the structure of their programs, degrees, and courses.

With the structure of the site in place, we then collaborated closely with the Earlham staff on the visual design of the site, along with implementing brand colors, logos, and campus photography. Their staff found the transition painless, and Marsh said he “must commend Clean Catalog's team for their expertise in data integration, which undoubtedly streamlined this intricate process. Our time working together has been both productive and enjoyable, and I appreciate the hard work that's gone into making this project a success.”

Our Solutions

A primary goal in modernizing Earlham’s course catalog was to overhaul their user interface. We implemented a new search function, content indexing, and page designs to make the site easy for students to navigate. This also included custom-designing a website footer that links to important resources on Earlham’s home website, along with contact information and social media links. The footer is nearly identical to the footer on their college website, making their course catalog site feel like a seamless extension. Marsh enjoyed that “Clean Catalog made it easy for us to make their software look and feel like our school's style. They also helped us set up our courses in a way that worked well with their system. This made it a lot easier to manage our course catalog.”

The Earlham staff also expressed that a major pain point of their previous catalog was the clunky, time-consuming editing process. All Clean Catalog software is intuitive to use on the backend, and we always offer staff training sessions to ensure they’re comfortable using the software. To further help Earlham’s staff, we designed custom templates for each content type. These templates will allow their staff to easily create new content that is both complete and consistent site-wide. We also set up editorial workflows and user permissions so that new and updated content will move through the appropriate approval process automatically. These safeguards will help avoid errors, inconsistencies, and ensure any changes can be easily reverted. Even better, staff members can manage catalog content more efficiently so that they can turn their attention to more important college initiatives. Their staff welcomes this change, with Marsh saying “the user interface of Clean Catalog is straightforward and intuitive, making it easy to navigate through the administrative options. This simplicity has significantly streamlined our catalog management process, reducing manual errors and saving time. The system's ease of use has made my job easier by allowing for more efficient updates and less back-and-forth with team members.”

Looking Ahead

Concluding Earlham College’s experience partnering with Clean Catalog, Marsh reflects that “Clean Catalog excels in user-friendly navigation and has streamlined our catalog management process, saving us valuable time.” As their staff continues to use their new course catalog and student handbook, they will save countless hours in the years to come. They will also enjoy ongoing customer support, future feature releases, and security releases. Their staff has a dedicated support specialist, who is always available to assist their staff on anything catalog-related. Marsh mentioned that his team has “been very pleased with the customer service we've received, particularly from Gabby, our support specialist, who has been exceptional.” We look forward to watching the success Earlham enjoys as a result of modernizing their course catalog, and continuing to support their team along the way.

If you’d like to learn more about working with Clean Catalog and what solutions we can offer for your institution, please reach out to us.

Mat Marsh

Completion Systems Analyst

I must commend Clean Catalog's team for their expertise in data integration, which undoubtedly streamlined this intricate process. Our time working together has been both productive and enjoyable, and I appreciate the hard work that's gone into making this project a success.