Case Study – Trenholm State Community College

An easy-to-use course catalog solution for an HBCU community college.

After working with a wide variety of community colleges and tech schools, we have developed a great understanding of the unique challenges that these institutions face when publishing a course catalog. Frequently, these smaller schools need robust course catalogs to display their course offerings online, but cannot afford the same software used by large universities. Trenholm State Community College was no different. Their preexisting course catalog and editorial processes were a tremendous burden on their staff, leading to inconsistencies and outdated information being published in their catalog. The accessibility, or lack thereof, in their catalog was also becoming a growing issue, impacting both the faculty and students alike. We worked directly with Tennie McBryde, Trenholm State’s Director of Records and College Registrar, on the build-out process, from start to finish. Check out what she had to say about their experience.

The Challenges

Prior to switching to Clean Catalog, TSCC was using InDesign to design and edit their course catalog. This document was then exported as a PDF when ready to be published. While this process may seem straight-forward on the surface, it caused many problems for the staff creating the catalog and the students consuming it. Most notably, all catalog edits needed to be routed through a single staff member with access to the InDesign document, which created a bottleneck in their workflow. During crucial catalog editing periods, such as prepping their catalog for an upcoming academic year, this problem only worsened. McBryde recalls their previous process as being “not user-friendly,” and time-consuming for staff members, who could have been devoting their time to more worthwhile projects.

In addition to simplifying the backend management portion of their catalog, TSCC expressed a need for greater hierarchy, navigation, and searchability. The exported PDF catalog version was static and required students to scroll through endless pages of content to find the information they were looking for. Students and staff members each expressed their own frustrations with the outdated catalog, signaling it was time to bring their course catalog into the modern digital age.

The Process

To kick off the transition process, Trenholm State emailed us the InDesign file of their existing course catalog. From that document, we migrated all existing course information to their new catalog system, while simultaneously organizing that information into templates for easier editing moving forward. Over the next few weeks, we built the functionality, structure, and design of the new catalog site while gathering ongoing feedback from the TCSS team. Since their team didn’t have a clear vision for their new catalog, McBryde was grateful when the Clean Catalog team “presented samples of similar institutions' catalogs that aided in our catalog design and layout.” Based on their feedback, we designed a catalog site tailored to their exact design preferences and functionality needs. We also implemented their institution’s branding and color schemes throughout the catalog so that it is a seamless extension of their primary website.

Our Solutions

Aside from the accessibility and modern web features we bake into every catalog site, we worked with the TSCC team to develop and design a few custom additions to their course catalog. For starters, we designed a custom header navigation bar with quick links to several frequented pages, including their student handbook, personnel directory, and addendum. We built their student handbook alongside their course catalog, allowing the two documents to work in tandem and staff members to edit both publications within the same interface. Within the degrees page, we also designed a custom degree search tool that allows users to filter degrees by degree type. Easy-to-click buttons allow students to narrow down search results quickly based on the degree they’d like to pursue. Finally, we added a personnel directory page to their course catalog, complete with a search bar to find staff members. The directory is also included in the PDF versions of the catalog in its entirety.

Looking Ahead

With their new catalog software in place, TSCC can now delegate the management of their catalog through different departments rather than to one person. This will not only lessen the burden of catalog management and likelihood of errors, but also empower their staff to efficiently make their own revisions on a rolling basis. Since launching their new catalog, our Clean Catalog team has provided ongoing support to the Trenholm State staff as they become acclimated with the new software. They will also enjoy access to all new feature releases, security updates, free catalog staging, and many other perks as a Clean Catalog client. We’re excited to see how their new catalog paves the way for success for TSCC moving forward, and we’ll be supporting them at every step of the way.

If you’d like to learn more about the process of switching to Clean Catalog from an InDesign catalog or other format, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Tennie McBryde

Director of Records and College Registrar

Clean Catalog provided excellent customer service throughout this entire catalog development.