2014-15 website redesign

Follow our progress, and offer feedback, as the Office of Marketing and Communications teams up with OHO Interactive to bring our community an all-new, retooled, well-oiled website.

It’s not the end of the story…

We’re just turning the page.

Soooooo … as most of you have realized by now (and if not, how was that trip to Bali?):

#1 – The website has launched (YAY!)

Us minions are high-fivin' it with joy!

Thanks to the considerable efforts of OHO Interactive and our phenomenal web team (listed alphabetically, for good measure): Genevieve Chan, Joseph Cserni, Ellamae Donato, Meg Dwyer, Matt Hankins, Carl Lew, Deanna Partlow, Amy Pollard, Cole Sirks, Christine Towey and Wrigley the Dog!

The launch

Yes, we met our deadline of Aug … no … uh, September eigh … oops, no, not quite … uh … September 25! YES! That’s it, the 25th!

Yes, third time’s the charm, or so they say. We made it to September 25 with — while not everything — most things. Then I walked out the door *Yikes!* and into a hot tub for a week while Genevieve, Carl and the rest of the team picked up all the bits we’d missed. And all of you patiently worked with us to get things hammered into place.

A thousand thanks to Genevieve for sending out helpful instructions; Carl for fielding edits; Cole, Joseph and Matt for handling edits and to everyone who participated in this project from September 11, 2014 when we sent out the Request For Proposal (RFP) to September 25, 2015 when …

… hand-cranks turned, lightening struck and we all shouted …


One thing I learned on this project

OK … there were more like eight-hundred-thousand things I learned, but I’m only going to talk about this one thing. For everything we were doing down in MarCom, there were folks all across the University working equally as hard, if not more so. Faculty and staff coming in on nights and weekends, putting in long hours answering emails, tackling workloads, preparing for a new semester and giving of themselves because of their commitment and dedication.

I want to recognize all of you. You’re why we do what we do.

What’s next

Well, as most of you know…

#2 – My last day at Saint Martin’s is tomorrow. *sniffle, sniffle*


I will miss all of you!

While my heart is heavy leaving all of you there are two things to be considered:

  1. I’ll just be downtown, so lunches and dinners can be had!
  2. Unless Howard and Will refuse to let me on campus … lunches and dinners can be had!

In addition, quite soon you’ll be getting a very special gift. Something that will lead you down new pathways, to whole new adventures. Soon, you’ll be getting …

A New Web Content Manager!

Yup. Fresh blood! New ideas! No more exclamation marks! (Now that’ll be a day to celebrate!)

So…what do you do in the meantime?

In the meantime, you’ve got that incredible team that I mentioned at the top of the post!

They will work with you on what needs to get done and field requests to the team.

I will forever be your devoted minion. Be well, live long and prosper, namaste and blessings to each and every one of you.

See you on the flipside!

I am Groot!

Unfortunately … or … not, since I’m the one writing this blog, you all have to suffer through the cultural references that I have either stockpiled over many a year, or recently been exposed to. My latest? Guardians of the Galaxy. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a bunch of misfits (aren’t they always) who band together to vanquish evil (don’t they always?).

Now if I were Groot, I could make this entire blog post read “I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot.” (Gotta rent the movie…) But then you’d have to go out and find someone of the genus Procyon to translate every line (like I said, the movie, kinda have to see it).

As luck would have it, I have someone who fits the bill!

Carl "The Rocket" Racoon

Carl “The Rocket” Racoon. A.K.A. “The Translator”

VanGroot and The Translator

VanGroot and The Translator

So we can just get started!

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “We’re in the homestretch of the website redesign project. Yaba-daba-doo!”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “But there are a few things left to do.”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “1. OHO needs to finish building out the design and make sure everything works. 2. MarCom need to complete the content migration. We’re about halfway there thanks to our incredible team of student workers! (Can I hear a “Right on!” — or “I am Groot!”) 3. Acquia, our hosting company, needs to do a technical review and load testing.”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “In order to offer you, our community, the biggest-bestest-most-polished-el-fabuloso website ever seen by the eyes of a human being … we’ve had to adjusted our launch date.”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “Our new launch date is …”

VG: “I am Groot!”

(Oh, get on with it already!)


“September 8, 2015!”

Ya-ta-dah-ta-dah-dah, ya-ta-dah-ta-dah-dah, ya-ta-dah-ta-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah! (Think clowns at the circus when you try to pronounce that one out. Or maybe not … since clowns are downright scary!)

Anyway … we’re still scurrying like little hamsters with the cheerfulness of our mascot Dug, mining, mining, mining all those website gems! That’s the scoop, the skinny, the low-down.

We’ll keep you posted, as always, but before we leave, we want to show off, once again, the most brilliant web team ever assembled! (A lot like the Guardians of the Galaxy.)

MarCom web team extraordinaire!

A WELL-deserved burger-break before the final push! Back row, l-r: Meg Dwyer, Christine Towey, Ellamae Donato, Amy Pollard, Kristofer Sirks, Joseph Cserni. Front row, l-r: Matt Hankins, Genevieve Chan, Carl Lew, Vanessa Schuler.


The pitter-patter of hamsters hamstering

In the spirit of moving like we got a purpose, this is a quick-ish update on the website redesign project.

A tiny (ar, ar, hamsters, get it?) diversion

Today, just because we can — and because it’s in the title, we begin with a bit of patter*:

Hamsters hamstering

What?! No! This is NOT a gaming console.

Weeeeeeeeeee…are the very model of a modern major website team.
We’ve architected something that we do believe will cast a beam.
On six-eleven Drupal passed so OHO the website could theme.
We type and click and resize pics while Carl builds pages like a dream.

Not a hamster

Squirrel? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a hamster just like the other guy.

Nooooooooow…OHO’s theming up a storm to add design and make things gleam.
While Joseph, Kris and Matthew too are plugging content in with steam.
Our Ellamae and Amy toil,
And Christine crops photos…with oil?
We’d better end this patter soon,
So you won’t fly off to the moon!

*I’m sure you’re all Gilbert and Sullivan fans, but for those who think they’re purveyors of exotic coffee beans, find out about these dudes who are synonymous with patter and to whom I’m offering my sincerest form of flattery.

So…uh…where we are at?

Gru's Carl

Drupal Carl.

Regular Carl

Regular Carl.

Well, Carl has built some 820+ pages — and counting — in our Drupal staging site. Yowlza! The rest of us are working, working, working putting content into those pages. OHO’s completing development and theming, and as the theme gets applied to the staging site, we’re all testing and debugging.

And just when you thought this update couldn’t get any better…a website redesign photo essay!

Content matrix

Welcome to the matrix, Neo. The content matrix, that is. This is the Grand Poo-bah of documents for our new website. Everything we build comes out of this.

The web team

The most AMAZING team this side o’ anywhere!


The one. The only. Wrigley the Dog! Wriggles attacks Drupal with abandon!


The rest of the most AMAZING team this side o’ anywhere!

Drum roll please! A sneak peek!

What we see - the back-end of Drupal - homepage

Meet the back-end of Drupal. This is what we see to enter the content.

What you'll see - homepage

Meet the front-end of Drupal. A.K.A. our new website! This is what you’ll see.

Add employee information

This is an example of how we’ll add employee information.

Professor Bode

And this is what it will look like. (Note that Professor Bode sent a lovely environmental shot for us to use on his employee profile. Learn from him, Young Luke. The ways of the force are strong with him.)

The rest of the story

And so we come to the end of our update. We’re hamstering away and on target for launch mid-August. YAY!

We’ll poke our heads out here and there. Maybe ask for a bit of this kind of content or a few of those kind of photos. But for the most part we’ll be on our hamster wheels, hamster feet running as fast as they can!

MarCom hamsters

OHO: Way the coolest kids on the block

UX Designer Lindsey WagnerOne of the reason’s we love OHO Interactive and are grateful we get to work with them: they’re totally cool and they think with heart.

We want to acknowledge our beloved UX designer extraordinaire, Lindsey Wagner, who moved on from OHO to a fellowship with Blue Ridge Labs — another majorly cool organization that designs technology solutions for low-income communities in New York City. Lindsey’s depth of knowledge, gentle hand and big heart have guided much of this project. While we miss her awesome demeanor and singular talent, we wish her the very best in this exciting and important work and in all she does in life. Congrats, Lindsey!

Saint Martin’s and the seven…eight…uh…no, fourteen (and counting)…dwarfs

“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, the project’s all a-go! (whistling) Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho!”

Dopey with diamonds

Mining the gems of Saint Martin’s University’s new website

Yes, just like the seven dwarfs mining for diamonds, Saint Martin’s (along with web-super-heros, OHO Interactive) have been dig-dig-dig-dig-dig-dig-digging to unearth the pre-production gems that are soon to become our new website!

With a whoooole lot of help from all of you who sacrificed your time to a) wrap your minds around wireframes, b) raise your hands at feedback sessions, c) sit in on design presentations or d) take surveys, we’ve moved the project forward from the primordial ooze of inception, to the rubber-stamping* of the first four…count ’em, FOUR!…phases of the project (if you haven’t seen ’em before, take a look and leave us your comments at the bottom of the post):

  1. Messaging architecture (who we are and what we want to say)…approved!
  2. Sitemap (how folks with navigate the site: by what they want to do)…approved!
  3. Wireframes (how the pages will be laid out)…approved!
  4. Visual design (what the pages will look like)…approved!

What do we have left to mine?

Weeeeeell…there are four phases left to the project — hence the halfway-through thingy.

  1. Development
  2. Content migration
  3. Testing and debugging
  4. Deployment [this is when we lah-ha-ha-haunch the site!]

Pretty cool, huh?

So, this week in Boston, OHO begins development. Wahooo!

They are taking everything we did from January until now (a.k.a. messaging, sitemap, wireframes and design) and turning them into the ultra-modern-highly-advanced-state-of-the-art-newfangled-cutting-edge-squealing-headlong-into-the-future-designed-to-make-things-easy-to-find-and-mobile-ready website that we’ve all been dreaming of. This jewel is being built with, Drupal, an open source content management system (CMS) that allows us to do fancy things like re-purpose content and search on and filter stuff (a bit of an over-simplification, but true nonetheless).

Whilst OHO plugs away at development, the dwarfs of MarCom head down the mineshaft to prepare for phase VI — content migration.

Our task(sssssssssss) include: mapping everything from the old site to the new site; writing new content where none has existed before; revising old content to present a streamlined message that is aligned with our messaging architecture of…

  • Pacific Northwest feel
  • Transformative spirit
  • Academic rigor

…then migrating everything from old to new. All serving the goal of a lean, mean, hospitable web machine that gets folks what they want and need as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So if you’re wondering what we’re doing down there at the east end of Old Main through the months of May, June, July and August…well, we’ll let the dwarfs do the talk…er, singing.

Collecting more precious jewels!We’ll map, map, map, map, map, map, map
From the old the whole day through
Then we’ll write, write, write, write, write, write, write
That’s what we like to do!

It ain’t no trick, to code real quick
If a team like OHO you do pick
Writing lines! Writing lines!
Writing lines! Writing lines!
So a website sapphire shines!

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho
It’s off to work we go
We’ll map and write
Then migrate lite
We’ll jump for joy
When we deploy
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho!

That’s all for today, folks. We’ll pop our heads out like little moles as soon as we have more to share. Until then…Web on!


Heigh-ho, heigh-ho!

This update has been brought to you by your website redesign team — or as we like to call ourselves the As-Many-Dwarfs-As-We-Can-Get-Our-Hands-On-To-Complete-The-Project.

 vanessa Vanessa = Bossy
 genevieve Genevieve = Cheery
 carl Carl = Drup(al)y
 meg Meg = Smarty
 deanna Deanna = Crafty
 marki Marki = Arty
 sarah Sarah = Aces
 matt Matt = Funy
 jamie Jaime = D.C.
 christine Christine = Eagle-eye
 ellamae Ellamae = Sharpy
 connor Connor = Crackerjack
 ted Ted = Squirt1
 noa Noa = Squirt2
 harlow Harlow = Squirt3

This project is a collaboration between OHO, MarCom and all of you. We couldn’t have made it this far without your participation. If we haven’t said thank you before, we’ll say it now. If we have, we’ll say it again. Because you can never be too thankful for the folks that help you get where you’re going.

*Don’t forget that the website is a living thing, shifting and changing as we step into the future. We just had to rubber-stamp things to make sure we hit our project launch date of mid-August.

The Mystery of the New Website or, How Sherlock Holmes Found a Way onto the Blog

A question you might be asking yourself right about now (along with what Sherlock Holmes has to do with anything) is “How, fine MarCom folk, can you possibly build a brand spanking new website by the end of August?!” Well, to that we say…

Sherlock Holmes knows the answer!Wait for it… waait foor iiit…

“Elementary, my dear Watson!”
(Ha, ha! Yes! This joke is the sole reason for Sherlock Holmes to be on the blog.)

Where are we now on the redesign, Holmes, my good man?

Quite simply, Watson, the easiest way to answer that question is to show you.

The Real Reason for This Post!

Along side having a bit of fun and updating everyone on our progress, the reason we’re posting the bunches of stuff below is because we want to know what you think. This is your new website. A collaboration with all of you. Please feel free to review anything or everything and leave your thoughts, comments and feedback (below) or email us at: marcom@stmartin.edu.

The Messaging Architecture

First buliding block of a website: the messageAfter spending time with us in January, then compiling all they’d heard, OHO (our website design vendor) came to the table with the foundation of our project: what it is we want to say about who we are.

When someone visits our site, even if they don’t read these exact words, this is the experience we want them to have:

  1. Northwest Sensibility, Family Feel
  2. A Transformative Spirit
  3. Perpetually Seeking Intellectual Challenges

[Read the full Messaging Architecture report.]

STATUS: Complete

The Sitemap

Second building block of a website: the sitemap

Saint Martin's 2015 sitemap

2015 Redesign Sitemap

The sitemap is essentially the navigation of a website. Think of it as an outline or table of contents.

Just like writing a thesis, once we’ve figured out what we’re writing about (our message), we chart how we’re going to say it.

  • My Thesis
    (i.e. website home page)

    • Topic One
      (i.e. academics landing page)

      • This information
        (i.e. accounting program)
      • That information
        (i.e. biology program)

The sitemap (and wireframes) help us to map out the user’s experience without getting sidetracked by the visual design.

For our new website we’re moving from a sitemap based on how the institution is organized to a sitemap based on how our primary audiences of prospective and current students utilize the website (or would like to!).

Review the sitemap

STATUS: In final review

The Wireframes

2015 Saint Martin's Wireframes

2015 Redesign Wireframes

Third building block of redesignWireframes block out the contents of the website, again, without having to worry about all the bells and whistles of the visual design.

We play with how blocks of content can, will or should be laid out to optimize the user’s experience — getting folks what they need as quickly as possible.

Review a sample of the wireframes

STATUS: Round 4 Revisions [Final approval 4/24/2015]

The Visual Design

2015 Saint Martin's Design Concept #1

2015 Saint Martin’s Design Concept #1

Fourth building block of redesignAnd now we come to the really juicing stuff — visual design!

Last week, OHO presented two design concepts to a group of Saint Martin’s stakeholders. By unanimous decision, the first design had hit the nail on the head. YAY!

One round of feedback has been delivered from SMU to OHO at the end of last week. On 4/14/2015, OHO will present Round 2 which will incorporate our feedback and mock up a few more pages.

STATUS: Round 2 Revisions [Final approval 5/13/2015]

That’s it! That’s where we are. Development (i.e. coding and all that stuff) are set to begin 4/23/2015, completed 8/13/2015. Soon we’ll be calling on folks to do user testing — whoohoo! Then you’ll get to click around and play.

‘Come, Watson, come!’ he cried. ‘The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!’
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the The Abbey Grange

What’s Your SMU Aha! Moment?

Faith and frost on a crisp, March morning.

Faith and frost on a crisp, March morning.

This morning as I motored onto campus I was once again moved by the beauty of our little 380 acres. The canopy of trees on Abbey Way opened to pre-sunned fields, crunch-covered with frost. The water ponds on the left, still hazy, steam rising. Red-winged blackbirds standing tall on threads of grasses, defying physics. As I got out of the car the air kissed my face with that yummy chill that comes on early mornings when the temperatures are low, the skies are blue, the sun is up — though not quite — and some mystical force makes the edges of everything a little more distinct.

I was reminded of the first time I drove up Abbey Way in 2012 for my job interview. It was the first of April and we had a freak snow storm. My interview was at 8 a.m. and being all ya-gotta-do-this-and-ya-gotta-do-that-if-you-wanna-make-an-impression, I arrived at about 7:30. Crossing College Street, hustle and bustle dissolved. I plunged into stillness, spaciousness. The snowflakes were wet and heavy, falling lazily to the ground, stitching an elegant, alabaster quilt over the entire landscape. Reflexively, my foot came off the gas. My shoulders slackened. My brow softened. Everything slowed.

That was my SMU Aha! Moment. The moment when you realize you’ve landed someplace wondrous. Is it the sight of Old Main on the hill? The way the monks have tended the land? The trees surrounding us? There’s no doubt about it. There is something special about Saint Martin’s. This place. Perhaps it’s the way the sunlight breaks onto the fields. Or the fact that for 100 years our monks have lived here, worked here, died here and are buried here. Is the very soil infused with something that makes it easier for us to touch the tender parts of ourselves?

As we spent time with our stakeholders, and OHO, in January, it became clear to Carl and me that there was something, some other thing, that makes us sit up and take notice — this is part of what OHO is helping us to define. For the OHO folks it was standing on the balcony of Cebula, looking across campus and saying, “It’s just right.”

For Carl, it was when he was coming for an interview. “When I was initially hired to consult with Saint Martin’s (1999) I got lost trying to find the campus although I had lived in the area for six years. A hidden treasure? Once I called and got directions (I was only a few blocks away) and drove onto Abbey Way I was presented with tree-lined drives throughout campus. At that time, I thought, ‘I get to work here?'”

For Sarah Holdener it was about a year into working at Saint Martin’s. “I headed down to St. Gertrude’s for lunch and as I wandered through the café and the seating area, I recall saying hello to everyone there… because I knew them all. I was overcome with a sense of community that day. I love that I know practically everyone on campus. It paves a smooth road for collaboration.”

It seems that everyone has an SMU Aha! Moment. People walk this campus and instantly know that this is where they need to be. Students and their parents. Faculty and staff. Our local community. It’s elusive. It’s a mystery. But it’s here. And it’s why we’re here.

Do  you have an SMU Aha! Moment? Share it with the community by leaving a comment below.

OHO était ici! Et l’écoute!

OHO Interactive and Saint Martin's MarCom teams

Your Saint Martin’s / OHO web team!
b.r. Scot Harrison, Greg Davis, Lindsay Wagner
m.r. Carl Lew, Meg Dwyer, Jason Smith, Georgy Cohen, Eleni Stathoulis
f.r. Vanessa Schuler, Genevieve Chan

Bonjour à tous, Saint Martin’s! (Not sure why we’re in France all of a sudden. Maybe I’m just feeling particularly Gigi this morning.)

Yesterday was our third and final day with OHO Interactive (@ohointeractive), the digital marketing phénomènes (et les personnes les plus fantastiques!) that are helping us with our website redesign.

OHO’s visit: a review

Why was OHO here? To get to know us.
And why is that important for the website? Because a website is a conversation. It’s a two-way communication between us and our audience. The clearer we are on who we are, the better we can communicate what we want to say. Since OHO is helping us communicate our story to the world, they need to understand us. The more they understand us, the more they can help us message our story clearly, accurately and honestly.

The stakeholder interviews: a recap

For two days, OHO (and MarCom) spent time listening to you, our stakeholders: students, faculty, staff, administration. They questioned and listened. Then listened and questioned. Then listened and listened and listened some more. (Isn’t there something about listening in the Rule of St. Benedict? Ha!) After some eleven hours of listening, our two teams set about digesting what we’d heard. We turned things over. Teased things out. We ruminated. Cogitated. Assimilated. Elucidated.

Elucidate quoi, you ask? Just a bit of who we are. Wanna hear a bit of who we are, as defined by you?

A bit of who we are, as defined by you

  • Sincere
  • Supportive
  • Thoughtful
  • Genuine
  • Respectful
  • Intentional
  • Unified
  • Healthy
  • Loving
  • Kind
  • Aligned
  • Accessible

Pretty cool, eh? Wanna hear a bit of the story you told us?

A bit of the story you told

  • We transform by being present
  • We are concerned with the success of others more than ourselves
  • We have integrity; we are the same on the inside as on the outside

Again, cool, right?

These aren’t the final messages, just the beginning of the exploration — but we’re certainly off to a terrific start!

A hearty THANK YOU!

None of this discovery would have been possible without those of you who were able to participate in the stakeholder interviews this week. Many, many, many thanks. If you were not invited to a stakeholder interview this go ’round, or were unable to attend, please share your thoughts about Saint Martin’s via our stakeholder feedback form. We want to hear as many voices as possible — we just weren’t able to hear them all this week. 🙂

What’s next?

Our pals from OHO had to return to the bitter-cold, eastern seaboard from whence they came. They bundled up your words, thoughts and ideas, and trotted (flew, actually) back to Boston. But in the days and weeks to come, our two teams, via the magic of the internet, will continue to unpack these ideas and translate them into clear, compelling messages. Messages that will then be transformed into the words and images of our new website.

Stay tuned! We’ll keep you updated and in-the-know. And continue to ask for feedback. We appreciate all that you are, and all that you do.

Souhaitant à tous un week-end magnifique!

Imagination is the beginning…

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
– George Bernard Shaw

What will www become?

What will www become?

It’s official! Saint Martin’s University and OHO Interactive* have joined forces to redesign our own beloved website. Wahoo!

Last month, while many were hanging stockings by chimneys with care, we were signing contracts and preparing to hit the ground running come the first of 2015.

Well, here we are, the first of 2015! And on Wednesday, January 7, Genevieve (Chan), Carl (Lew) and I (Vanessa Schuler) had a kick-off meeting with our OHO counterparts (Stephanie Krol, Eleni Stathoulis, Georgy Cohen and Lindsay Wagner) to discuss their first visit to campus. Woohoo! The dates have been solidified and the schedule is almost complete.

OHO Interactive campus visit: January 20-22, 2015

Why is OHO coming to campus? In a nutshell, to get to know us.

Saint Martin’s has a story to tell and a future to live into. The website is our primary vehicle for communicating these ideas with the outside world. Carl and I, along with our incredible web assistants, have been doing our darnedest to keep things fresh, relevant and up-to-date, but let’s face it…it needs a facelift (pun intended). OHO is here to help. Help re-vision the look. Help re-vision the message. But in order to help, they have to get to know us. So they’re spending three days with our community to learn who we are and what makes us tick.

This is where you come in.

Stakeholder discovery sessions

Beginning January 20, the OHO team (Eleni, Georgy, Lindsey and OHO Founder, Jason Smith) will be on campus to meet us. Meet you. They’ll ask us about Saint Martin’s. What we think about it, how we feel about it and what it means to us.

We have a roster of key community members we’ll be inviting to these stakeholder discovery sessions. Folks from around campus: faculty, staff and students. We hope that all who are invited are able to attend, and all who attend share their thoughts openly and honestly. We seek to discover the intersections, as well as the gaps, between who we say we are, who we actually are and who we want to be. Our goal is to bring these into alignment so that we convey our most authentic self via the website.

A series of sessions have been booked around campus January 20 and 21. We’ll be sending invitations** via email the week of January 12. We are so excited about this project, and incredibly excited about spending time with all of you.

And so it begins!

* Put a face on OHO so that when they’re on campus you’ll be able to give them a warm Saint Martin’s welcome. They’re good peeps and we’re thrilled to be working with them.

** This will be the first of many conversations to come. We want our entire community to be a part of the conversation. There will be many opportunities throughout the life of the project for members of our community to participate – for example, share your thoughts on this blog!


Santa meets Lao Tzu: Saint Martin’s University’s website redesign project

Lao Tzu says, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Our first step began in spring 2014 when then-Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Jennifer Fellinger, came to the team and said, “We’ve been given a budget for a website redesign!” After mopping up the coffee sprayed all over the table, we shouted, “Yeehaw!” Followed closely by, “Uh, what now?”

“What now?” became step two: Web Manager, Carl Lew, now-Vice President, Genevieve Chan and me, Web Content Manager, Vanessa Schuler, stole away from the rest of the tasks on our plate — early mornings here, late afternoons there — to build, compile, write, list, collect, amass, edit and refine a letter to Santa (a.k.a. Request for Proposal, a.k.a. wishlist) asking for the whole enchilada: one, unique higher ed marketing and web design firm that “gets” Saint Martin’s University.

After two solid months of thinking and conceiving and analyzing and envisioning, we put a stamp on it, and on September 11, 2014 we moved to step three: popping our North Pole petition into the mail (i.e. email, Twitter and the RFPDatabase) in hopes that Saint Nicholas would hear our plea.

Now the way I understand how Santa to works, you write your letter, put it in the mail and wake up Christmas morning with either a lump of coal or a shiny new toy, depending on whether you’re naughty or nice. Weeelllll, Santa works a little differently on projects with a budget, so a few weeks after we sent our letter into the Internet ether…Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing! An elf appeared at the MarCom door with 16 proposals ranging in size from 20 pages to 75 pages and a note from Santa saying “Season’s greetings! You decide!”

Ack! Egads! How to choose?

This led to step four:

Like Who’s down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
We poured through proposals, we went through them all.
We gave the committee* the best we could see,
And asked if they’d rank them: one, two or three!

By October the committee had ranked the three vendors and invited them to campus. Step five. One by one they came. Bringing gifts of words, ideas and presentations–each according to their strengths. And their strengths were legion!

We scurried back to HQ to converse, examine and weigh. Through quiet contemplation and deep deliberation we arrived at a decision (step six), dispatching our choice (step seven), via candy cane pneumatic tube, back to the land of snow, to see if Santa would deliver the goods! And…

It’s not yet Christmas, but we’re happy to say,
Step eight has happened, yay, yay and YAY!
Santa delivered our vendor of choice,OHO Interactive logo
The one we believe will give us our voice.
The one who will “get” us and help us achieve,
The magic we’re seeking, the stories we’ll weave!
Hailing from Boston, a fabulous team,
OHO Interactive, they’re truly our dream!

Congratulations to OHO Interactive and Saint Martin’s University on our gift of collaboration!

Our journey of a thousand steps has begun. Thank you to President Heynderickx, the Board of Trustees, Dino Batali and our amazing web committee for helping us take these first steps.

Stay tuned to our MarCom blog. This is a journey we’re taking together. We want to share each step with you and get feedback from you along the way.

“OHO, ho! Merry Christmas!”

*Our web committee: super-duper-troopers Dino Batali, Deanna Bourgault, Bailey Craft, Greg Davis, Ellamae Donato, Meg Dwyer, Genevieve Gottwald, Scot Harrison, Fumie Hashimoto, Ryan Jackson, Spencer Jerome, Megan Lobdell, Mary Maselli and Alyssa Nastasi.