BBK Completes Davenport Site

October 2, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The school's new Web site attempts to seize prospective students' attention with the phrase "reinvent U" and continues: "Starting School? Starting over? Start here."

That's the billboard portion of a new Web site for Davenport University designed by BBK Studio, a Grand Rapids-based graphic design and Web development consultancy. 

The new site, www.davenport.edu, lays heavy stress on Davenport's outreach by inviting mouse clicks upon headings such as: new adult student, transfer student, high school student, international student and returning DU student.

The site serves all of Davenport, the largest independent university system in this state and Northern Indiana. Davenport also has a significant online curriculum enrollment.

Kevin Budelmann, one of BBK's three principals and the man who led the design project, said the site focuses on the various stages of a student's life with the university, regardless of whether the person is a prospective student or an alumnus.

He told the Business Journal the site also addresses Davenport's faculty and staff, as well as businesses that seek employee training or other corporate services from the university.

Through each of the several Web channels, he said, different types of information and services are available, from online applications and course registration to alumni gift donations and a faculty and staff directory.

Most of BBK's work is done in its second-story office suite at the Brass Works Building, 648 Monroe Ave NW.

Budelmann, Michael Barile and Yang Kim founded BBK in 1997. Further information about the enterprise is available at www.bbkstudio.com. Currently, the firm has a staff of 11.

BBK landed the Davenport contract in part upon the recommendation of SageStone, the Grand Rapids-based software firm engineering the new site's underlying programming. SageStone and BBK have collaborated on several other Web site projects in the past.

Brian Anderson, a senior software architect with SageStone, said the firm recommended BBK Studio because of its ability to deal with user interface design.

"Davenport University wanted an enterprise-class content management system," Anderson said. "We asked BBK Studio to help provide the big picture perspective for the different audiences, and to concentrate on the Web site's marketing and design aspects while we focused on functionality.

"They did a good job of bridging the information gap between the marketing and IT camps."

Budelmann explained that Davenport's Web site design needed to reflect a re-branding effort the university recently launched to more effectively communicate with numerous publics.

"Our job was to make it possible for a variety of people to navigate the site to find what they need quickly and easily."

He said the site's tab-style format provides an immediate visual reference to direct visitors to their area of interest, while reinforcing Davenport's mission of serving its key constituents throughout their lives.

He said the site's spare look reflects BBK's philosophy that good design helps businesses clarify their vision and serve their customers better.

Davenport offers master's, bachelor's, and associate's degrees, diplomas, and certification programs in business, technology and health professions, and graduate studies.

The university — founded just after the Civil War — has 30 locations serving about 15,000 students in Michigan and Indiana. But it also serves even more students world wide through its online curriculum.

Pam Jennings, director of interactive marketing at Davenport, said that while not engaged in the Web site's initial planning stages, BBK played a critical role in defining the site's overall look and functions.

"Other firms not involved from day one might have taken a pass, but Kevin and BBK hit the ground running," she said.

"They did a great job of articulating our marketing message on the site and helping us define and address our key audiences. Kevin also was a very calming influence during some rather intense meetings among the various players working together to get the site up and running."

Budelmann said that the Davenport project illustrates the importance of combining marketing and design expertise with technical ability to create a cohesive experience for users.

"It's essential to make your Web site visitor feel welcome and in control, while simultaneously communicating your key branding messages in a thoughtful manner," he noted. "The Davenport site has to speak to audiences spanning the country and several life stages. Thanks to the efforts of a number of talented people recruited for this project, I think we've succeeded."

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