With more than 20,000 visitors each day, the INSEAD website is our most frequented “campus”. And it’s just been relaunched. Meet the alumni masterminds behind the brand-new site: Anand Vengurlekar GEMBA’13, Chief Communications Officer, and Axel Tagliavini TGM’15, Director of Digital Communications
Q: Why did you undertake a major overhaul of insead.edu instead of a simple makeover?
Anand: Today’s MBA candidates have been raised online. The meaning they derive from their digital lives is easily comparable to their physical lives. The new website respects that and isn’t just a substitute for a brochure. We plan to take applicants all the way through from their initial contact with the school, via the social-media-style interaction of the various programme platforms, to a lifelong relationship with INSEAD, once they graduate.
Axel: Also, in 2014 mobile Internet usage overtook desktop browsing for the first time. The new site was designed around the idea of “mobile first”.
Q: Does mobile really make such a difference?
Axel: It changes everything! You need menus at the top of the page that also follow you as you scroll down. You need pages that resize automatically. You need to be able to show 40+ Executive Education programmes on one small page. And speed is essential. The content has to change for mobile devices too. You need to communicate with images, video, infographics, bigger fonts and shorter text. “Think twitter” is our mantra.
Q: The homepage seems to have changed particularly radically. Why is that?
Anand: It’s designed to be the ultimate shop window, displaying all the amazing programmes at INSEAD for the benefit of potential degree or Executive Education participants. But behind the homepage, there’s content for everyone – such as INSEAD Knowledge, faculty profiles, press releases, events calendars and the alumni magazine you’re reading now.
Axel: Having said that, we’ve also removed of a lot of outdated content that had built up over the years. We went from 20,000 pages down to 4,000.
Q: What was the biggest technical challenge?
Axel: Probably redirecting the 20,000 URLs for the old pages to the 4,000 on the new site. Having links that work is essential for search engine optimisation (SEO in the jargon). Not being on the first page of Google results is the web equivalent of death!
Q: Is a website more important for “The Business School for the World” than a single-campus institution?
Anand: Absolutely. We smile when we refer to the new site as our “fourth campus”. But seriously, we understand that outstanding applicants must have a digital relationship with INSEAD.edu that’s on a par with the information they get and the relationship they develop by visiting competitor schools closer to home.
Axel: My favourite statistic is that the Abu Dhabi Campus gets 1,500 visitors a year, while Singapore has 6,500 and Fontainebleau 14,000… but insead.edu gets 20,000+ visitors a day!
Q: What other digital innovations are happening at INSEAD?
Anand: At the moment we’re using MOOC-style technology and methods to deliver company-specific Executive Education. We recognise that digital education is vitally important, especially for lifelong learning, but we’re not yet convinced that the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) model is right for our overall brand – or that it will take over the world. After all, a hundred years ago, people said that radio was going to shut down lectures in schools and universities, because all lectures would be broadcast!
Q: Brand new website, #1 ranking… there’s obviously something special happening at INSEAD. How will the website help us to stay ahead of the competition?
Anand: Becoming the FT’s #1 MBA school didn’t happen overnight and it’s not a trivial honour. We’re one of only five schools to have held that position – and unique in having two top-ranked Executive MBA programmes at the same time. This situation is the fruit of many years’ hard work by all the staff and faculty at INSEAD. And it’s nice timing that the two-year website project has come to fruition at the same time. Having a world-class website, designed specifically to meet the needs of today’s applicants, will definitely help us to stay at or near the top.
Q: What’s the feedback from alumni been like so far? And are any further changes planned?
Axel: Alumni have been our greatest critics over the years. Their feedback and belief in INSEAD played a key role in our decision to undertake this huge project. So we’re delighted that the alumni reaction to the new site has been overwhelmingly positive – with double-edged comments like: “Finally, INSEAD is entering the 21st century”! Our two-minute survey is still open, so please tell us what you think. The beauty of the new site is that it’s much more agile and flexible, which means we should be able respond to feedback and new ideas much more quickly.
Q: What are you most proud of with respect to the new site?
Axel: This has been the most amazing, challenging, interesting project I’ve ever worked on. Becoming perfectly aligned across so many departments with such different objectives and audiences felt like a big achievement.
Anand: I’m immensely proud of the teamwork too. Axel has done an incredible job at bringing our many communications professionals together so that the new site reflects excellence from every corner of INSEAD. And, of course, I’m proud that we have a truly world-class website now. Other Chief Communication Officers have already expressed not just congratulations but also a certain amount of envy… which I have to admit makes me feel even prouder!