What does it take to build an entire website? One that’s completely on brand, is easy to navigate, and isn’t just mobile-responsive – but mobile-friendly? Short answer: Talented, driven people and a lot of detailed, strategic work.

In August 2020, Nelnet Campus Commerce launched a newly redesigned website. It was a big step for the company. One that set them up for the future and allowed them to match Nelnet’s overall brand. And it didn’t happen overnight.

First, a Little Background.

If you don’t work in higher education (or at Nelnet), you may not have heard of Nelnet Campus Commerce.

Put simply, Nelnet Campus Commerce offers secure payment technology to colleges and universities across the country. It’s the kind of technology that institutions use to accept tuition payments online, or give students the opportunity to set up tuition payment plans rather than take out a loan or pay their bill all at once. Or the kind that allows a college to easily set up online shops for their departments and track every sale in one system.

It’s a big, complicated industry – one that requires a lot of trust, experience, and partnership. With the evolution of Nelnet’s overall brand, it was the perfect time for Nelnet Campus Commerce to revisit their website.

A Cohesive, But Still Unique, Brand.

Nelnet Campus Commerce needed to reinforce their position as a prominent Nelnet company. That includes more than the logo or the company name itself. It comes from the way they speak and look. Nelnet is a service company – and so is Nelnet Campus Commerce (in a more specific way).

They knew the website needed to match that identity and embody the amount of experience in higher education their associates have. They also knew it needed to be easy to navigate and flexible enough to grow down the road. That was enough to get the proverbial ball rolling.

Setting a Strong Foundation.

First, Nelnet’s in-house marketing team worked in tandem with Nelnet Campus Commerce marketers and leaders to gather information. The goal was to get everyone on the same page – what was it the website needed to accomplish? How should it look, feel, and sound?

Much of the creative work and design would come later. Aside from a few early ideas, these meetings were purely foundational. The team asked countless questions and had many valuable conversations. For the website to meet expectations, it’s paramount that this step went well.

Getting Started.

After a number of exploration meetings, the marketing team’s developers began the process of building an early “wireframe” of the website. It’s a document that resembles potential – a skeleton of how the site could be structured. There’s little, if any, color, very few icons, and “Lorem ipsum” copy that acts as a placeholder for text. Meanwhile, copywriters on the marketing team start drafting content, working with specialists to define what the new website will say, and how the brand’s voice will sound.

Building a Website.

Once the teams felt good about the overall structure of the website, the development team started to actually build out the site, working in tandem with graphic designers, web strategists, marketing specialists, and writers.

The website project was already in full swing when COVID-19 began to spread throughout the United States. By March 2020, most of Nelnet’s workforce was operating from their homes – including the website and marketing teams. But, like all 6,500 Nelnet associates, they didn’t let the setback stall them for long.

With teams working remotely and communicating constantly, the structure established by wireframes started coming to life. Colors, photos, and graphics began to be populated – and with a special level of care. The developers make sure that every website Nelnet builds meets 508 compliance. Essentially, that means that every aspect of the website – like the colors used – needed to be accessible by people with disabilities.

Looking to the Future.

In the end, the website launched successfully. Developers moved content from the older version of the site to the new one, and the end result was similar to a fresh start. It reflected Nelnet’s overall brand, while offering Nelnet Campus Commerce the flexibility to serve the higher education partners the way they need to. There’s still much work to do – and the site will continue to grow. But, for at least a moment, the team members responsible for the website can take a deep breath and smile at the work they’ve accomplished together.

Want to see the work for yourself? The website’s live! Check it out at CampusCommerce.com. Wondering what else is new at Nelnet? See what else our associates are up to.