Case Study – Northwest Nazarene University

A custom course catalog solution for a liberal arts university.

For years, Northwest Nazarene University struggled to keep their outdated catalog system relevant and accessible in today’s digital age. Feedback from the NNU team that catalog management was consuming huge amounts of time was the final straw, and their admin decided they were overdue for a catalog revamp. We worked closely with Heidi Zickefoose, the University’s Registrar, and her team to build a fully custom catalog that not only modernized their catalog publications, but transformed their staff’s workflows and catalog management processes for the better.

The Challenges

Before making the switch to Clean Catalog, NNU was using an antiquated platform called Pyro to edit their course catalog, which was then exported as a PDF document. There was no digital catalog version available, which limited its accessibility for students and staff alike. Like most universities using outdated catalog platforms, NNU also struggled to make efficient and widespread updates to their course catalog.

Zickefoose recalls that her team “had no automated system to track changes within that system. We had to manually (line by line) locate all of the changes entered by various university departments. There was no automated process for changing a course number in one place and having it updated elsewhere in the catalog.” Since catalog updates are frequently needed, whether to fix a typo, update course information, or in preparation for an upcoming academic year, this was a major pain point for their staff.

The Clean Catalog Process

We began the build-out process by NNU exporting and sharing their existing catalog PDF. After that, our team migrated all of their existing content into a new catalog site. We worked closely with the NNU team at each step of the way, gathering their feedback on site layouts, functionality, organization, and design. To best suit their needs, we created a custom layout for archiving past catalogs, implemented a grid-style layout for course listings, and built a custom footer navigation with links back to their university’s website.

We also collaborated with their team on the visual design of the catalog, building out a fully custom homepage, implementing brand colors, embedding campus photography, and using custom design elements to add personality to the site. The end result is a catalog site that is completely unique and fully branded, in stark contrast to the assembly-line-style catalogs many other providers build. The new NNU catalog is a seamless extension of their master university website.

Zickefoose recalls that “with Gabby Rainville (our dedicated client support specialist) at the helm, switching from our previous software to Clean Catalog was effortless. Transitioning to Clean Catalog provided the opportunity to rebuild our catalog layout. Gabby provided feedback on industry-wide best practices as well as her expertise throughout implementation. Additionally, whenever a member of our team shared an idea for enhanced functionality or usability, Gabby would take our suggestions back to her team of developers. Within 48 hours we would see our idea implemented or were given another possible solution.”

Our Solutions

Since Northwest Nazarene University offers both undergraduate and graduate programs, we built a catalog that streamlined both publications for improved accessibility, while creating logical structures and organization to keep the content separate. The undergraduate and graduate catalogs can now both be accessed from the homepage of NNU’s course catalog, allowing students to choose their pathway. A catalog-wide search bar also enables users to search for content across both catalogs, or limit their search to degree- or program-specific results. Possibly the greatest advantage, in the student’s mind, is the improved accessibility of the new catalog. While still available in PDF form, the digital catalog is fitted with responsive site designs, enabling students to view the catalog on any device at their disposal.

From the NNU staff’s perspective, the most value lies in the new catalog’s admin interface. The backend of the catalog site is incredibly user-friendly, allowing admin to easily make updates to content and push those updates for approval through custom-built workflows. Once published, the changes are made globally so that NNU will never again have to tediously update a course number everywhere it appears in the catalog. That heavy-lifting will be done automatically, ensuring their catalog always remains consistent and accurate. Zickefoose shared that “Clean Catalog's administrative interface has been exceptionally easy to use. It is extremely intuitive. Updating our catalog is now a quick and seamless process.” As it should be! Even better, the “Marketing and Communications Department shared that since we've gone live, Clean Catalog has saved hours of time.” Since the NNU catalog launch is still fresh, we can only imagine how many hours their admin will save over the next 5, 10, and 15 years of using our ever-evolving software.

Collaborating with the Clean Catalog Team

When we asked Zickefoose for feedback on her experience switching to Clean Catalog, she repeatedly raved about working with our staff. Here at Clean Catalog, we believe in a personalized approach to catalog software. This isn’t just limited to the customization of the catalog itself, but extends to the personal relationships we develop with our clients along the way.

“We were incredibly impressed by the president of Clean Catalog, Rory Douglas. We didn't feel he was "just a salesman." Instead Rory actually understood our needs at the implementation level. He was never selling us a product, he was helping us find a solution. During Rory's demonstration, he was able to speak with our IT team--speaking their language--as well as speaking the language of the Office of the Registrar team.”

“Annie Campo, Director of Customer Success, was another impressive member of the Clean Catalog team. Every encounter with Clean Catalog personnel has been supportive and positive. Clean Catalog's customer service and support are exceptional.”

We had such a blast working with the NNU team and love hearing that they shared the same sentiment. We can’t wait to see (and support!) how their new catalog site paves the way for their university to continue growing in the future.

Heidi Zickefoose

NNU Registrar

Clean Catalog's administrative interface has been exceptionally easy to use. It is extremely intuitive. Updating our catalog is now a quick and seamless process.