Case Study – Sofia University
Sofia University, a private, WSCUC-accredited institution with multiple California campuses, recently made the leap to Clean Catalog software and hasn’t looked back since. With their unique mixture of graduate programs, institutes for psychology studies, Chinese programs, and global college offerings, Sofia presented a unique puzzle for our Clean Catalog team to solve. Following the new catalog launch, we spoke with Carol Lee Humphreys, Sofia University’s Provost, about their experience migrating platforms and the resounding impacts it has had for both their students and staff.
Prior to switching to Clean Catalog, Sofia University used a Word Document to edit and publish their course catalog. This outdated format not only limited accessibility and online visibility, but it made managing their catalog an uphill battle for their staff. Due to the static nature of a Word Document, staff members were required to produce and publish a new addendum each time an edit was made to the catalog, no matter how minor. These updates affected the entire catalog, not simply the course or degree the change was being made to. To add insult to injury, this workflow also led to multiple catalog versions circulating and an inconsistency across publications.
While the Sofia staff struggled to manage catalog content and updates, students faced their own set of frustrations with the previous catalog. Humphreys recalls that “students could not easily move through the lengthy catalog to find a specific item. Rather, they had to scroll all the way through the document. The aesthetics did not engage the reader.” The catalog’s success and student engagement was greatly impacted by the level of clunkiness and inaccessibility of the Word Document. Rather than spend another year struggling with an outdated format, the Sofia staff was ready to graduate to a modern, digital solution for their catalog.
We kicked off the build-out process once Sofia passed off their most recent course catalog to us in a Microsoft Word Document. We then handled the content migration to Clean Catalog software. Since we offer free migrations, the Sofia Staff wasn’t burdened with data entry, but could instead focus their attention on other university projects while we did the heavy lifting. During the buildout, we focused heavily on their unique program structures and how to best separate these institutes while still keeping them a part of the comprehensive course catalog. We also focused on the mobile version of their catalog, with custom integrations to ensure accessibility and screen responsiveness that exceeds modern web standards.
Once a first draft of the new catalog site was built, we began an ongoing collaboration process with Sofia’s team to customize their new site. We referred to their brand guidelines to inject brand colors, logos, and graphic elements across the site, resulting in a course catalog that feels like a seamless extension of the university’s main website.
Since Sofia University has multiple institutes and a Global College all within the university umbrella, we built their catalog site to have separate module buttons and search pages for each entity. This not only aids in organizing their course content, but allows faculty and students to easily filter by the information they’re searching for. Students can still access the homepage of the catalog to search for courses or degrees across the entire site, rather than limited to one institute. Furthermore, Sofia University offers certain programs in Chinese under their Global College. The multilingual compatibility of our software allowed us to have degrees, courses, and descriptions listed in both English and Chinese for maximum accessibility.
The Sofia staff also requested a more user-friendly mobile navigation feature, which we built as a custom, hamburger-style mobile dropdown menu. The new mobile menu allows for easier clicking on touchscreen devices, whether it be a mobile device or a tablet. Since building this customization for Sofia University, we’ve had several other institutions adopt this new mobile navigation feature into their catalogs, as well.
Sofia’s staff is very happy with the final result and the extra bandwidth it has provided to them. Humphreys reports that the transition “has been very easy! It has significantly improved my job and that of the staff who have access to the catalog. They are able to focus on other areas of their jobs rather than addressing small mistakes and inconsistencies or keeping lists of edits. Students have reported appreciation for the ease of use.” Moving forward, Sofia University will receive ongoing support from the Clean Catalog team and have access to all future updates and integrations we release. We’re excited to see how their new catalog system continues to pave the way for new growth and empowers both their students and staff alike.