Virginia CTE Resource Center

The CTE Resource Center (CTERC) was established by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to assist in the design and implementation of competency-based career and technical programs. The Center has developed more than 500 curriculum frameworks, which have evolved over the years from bound, printed copies to printable PDF documents to online products.

In collaboration with the VDOE, the Center also produces resources related to workplace readiness skills for the commonwealth, publishes annual reports, and develops periodic reviews of CTE-related program areas.

Virginia CTERC partnered with Marathon in 2021 to completely redesign the look and feel of their website with a strong emphasis on improving the desktop and mobile online experiences for their users and to better showcase their available resources to students and educators. Virginia CTERC was also in the process of migrating its curriculum material to a new course management system called Canvas.    

Challenge

The client’s old website was not responsive and suffered from an outdated and cluttered design which created the impression that the organization was behind the times and unable to meet the needs of their audiences. Additionally, the site’s navigation and course content were unorganized and did not allow visitors to quickly find the information they were looking for.

The primary goals for this project were to build a new responsive website with a restructured information architecture, update the design to a more modern look, and craft an enhanced user experience for site visitors to easily find course information, resources, and services that Virginia CTERC provides to the community.

A secondary goal was to develop a credential verification portal to replace a time-consuming manual process used for the yearly submission, review, and credential approvals from participating credential providers.

Solution

Our UX designers crafted an updated look and feel for the new website including a new logo; fresh color palette; easy-to-read typography; and clean, uncluttered page layouts. To ensure site visitors could easily find the information they were looking for, we included an intuitive megamenu layout for the main site navigation, a site-wide search, audience-specific landing pages, and a robust course and credential filtering system. During this process, the designers also kept standard accessibility practices in mind to ensure the new website would be ADA compliant.

Marathon's Umbraco-certified developers built the new website in the Umbraco 8 CMS with features for the client to easily update content and build custom pages on their own. To facilitate the management of course syllabus information, we customized the CMS to allow the client to store this data in Umbraco and integrated with the Canvas API, which allowed them to push course syllabuses directly to the Canvas platform. In addition to the full website build, we also worked with the CTERC team to design and build a credential verification portal as an extension to Umbraco. This portal brings a new level of efficiency and integrity to the management of the available credential options for students.

Throughout the project timeline, Marathon’s development and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) teams worked closely together to ensure the new website was built with a solid technical SEO foundation for improved rankings with the search engines. This included creating a clean and consistent URL structure and a custom redirect map with thousands of URLs that provided a seamless transition from the old website to the new without losing any existing SEO rankings. Marathon also set up new analytics and tracking capabilities and conducted extensive pre- and post-launch SEO checklist reviews to make certain the new site was error free and met the requirements for successful Search Engine Optimization.  

Features

  • Responsive design
  • Enhanced user experience
  • Custom API integration
  • Robust course and credential filtering system 
  • Custom client portal
  • Technical SEO
  • ADA compliance