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The New Peralta Website

In February 2022, the Peralta Community College District launched our new website at www.peralta.edu following more then a year of planning, data analysis, design work, and collaboration with students and employees.  It had been a long time coming, and ironically, experienced some delay due to the coronavirus. 

Why is that ironic? These past few years of the pandemic have emphasized the importance of online presence, from college websites, learning environments for online and hybrid classes, digital advertising to attract students, and our websites becoming the primary place where current and potential students and our community learn about the Peralta Colleges. In March 2020, because of COVID we put plans for relaunching the Peralta website on hold in order to prioritize the launch of Safe Peralta (https://safe.peralta.edu), a new platform for emergency communication at the district.  Safe Peralta has been the primary site for communication about COVID prevention and safety at the Peralta Colleges. 

The Peralta District website (formerly at web.peralta.edu) was launched in 2011 on the WordPress platform. Back then, fewer people were using their phones to access the internet, and the site was built primarily as a tool for internal/employee information, with a homepage and menu system geared around the various departments that make up our district.

We realized a redesign needed to address what we perceived as three major problems:

  1. The new site needed to be functional on all sizes of screens, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. The old site was not optimized for mobile devices and Google Analytics data suggested that very few people were accessing the site via their phones. And it's easy to understand why...the old site was very difficult to read on a phone!
  2. The new site needed to be accessible and follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).  Simply put, the old site provided challenges for visually impaired readers and we wanted to address that problem, to make the site more useful to everyone. 
  3. The new site needed to better engage with students and community members.  We wanted to provide more relevant information for prospective students and members of our community, not just information for employees. 

Peralta website homepage 2012-05-10 from Internet Archive

Old home page from May 2012 (web.peralta.edu)

old website home page from Feb 2022

Old home page from February 2022 (web.peralta.edu)

new Peralta website home page as of Feb 28 2022New website home page as of February 28, 2022 (www.peralta.edu)

If you google ‘how often should you redesign your website?’ you get a number of answers, but the general consensus is every two to three years, making our decade-old site in dire need of revision. Various "bells and whistles" (WordPress plug-ins) had been added in a rough attempt to keep up with technology, but if you look at an image of our site at its launch way back in 2011 compared to it in January 2022, it is nearly the same.

Under the leadership of Mark Johnson as head of the Marketing, Communication & Public Relations department which oversees the district website, we began thinking about what a new Peralta website might look like. The site was primarily built in the HubSpot Content Management system by Aaron Harbour (Web Content Developer) and Marcus Creel (Graphic Design Specialist).  Johnathan Freeman (Web Content Developer) joined the team in January 2022 and was a huge help with the successful launch.  We took into account conversations with stakeholders across the district, with the notion that our website is the front door of our district. And for the vast majority of those reaching our website, it is something viewed on a mobile phone.



A lot of work went into digging through the thousands of pages (and the even more plentiful documents – images, pdfs, other file types) that made up the old site, and we paid serious attention to Google Analytics reports identifying the pages most used by visitors (who overwhelmingly used the page as a jumping-off point to email, Canvas, and other tools). With that data, we began to carefully reimagine the structure of the website, focusing newly designed, minimal top menus on students, faculty and staff, and the community. Where possible, pages with small amounts of content were merged and trimmed, and when out-of-date content was found, efforts were made to contact those knowledgeable about a given page or department to solicit updates and input on our work.


We took to heart not only what we read about accessibility, but input from our community when thinking through what to do and what to avoid. Many things that might make a website seem more exciting like slideshows and videos can be excessive, distracting, and/or hard to parse for someone with visual impairment, so for now these have been avoided.


We are proud of what we came up with and we think the majority of our community is too, with a combination of very welcome positive feedback and even more welcome detailed notes highlighting errors we’ve made that allowed us to make fixes quickly. Even this slimmed-down site is dense with content and there is always room for revision and improvement. We have migrated fully to the Hubspot ecosystem – a highly economical system where we do other online activities such as email and text message outreach to students and the community, and maintain the Peralta Gems blog. We no longer depend on separate physical servers and a website provider, combining multiple services into a single provider - hosting the site in the cloud - which also allows for smarter integration of advertising and content.

We’ve brought the bulk of the responsibility for maintaining the website pages into the marketing department where we hired a second Web Content Developer -- we hope to provide prompt and accurate updates for the whole Peralta District team, allowing each department to focus resources on what they do best, and making the whole site a more cohesive experience for visitors.

In August 2022, we were able to integrate Google Translations into the site.  Click on "Translate" in the main menu to choose one of the nine languages that Google Analytics helped identify as the most common browser language preferences among visitors to the site, which also align with our service area demographics.  These languages include Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. If you'd like to see another language added to the list, please let us know. 

New home page mobile view

New website home page mobile view as of December 2022 (www.peralta.edu)


So, did we solve those three main problems? So far, so good.

  1. Mobile Users. The new site has been a big improvement for people using their mobile phones and tablets to browse.  We've seen mobile device usage grow from less than 20% of total usage to more than 35% with an upward trend. 
  2. Accessibility. We use a tool called Pope Tech provided by the California Community Colleges state chancellor's office to monitor our WCAG compliance.  While there's always work that can be done to improve accessibility, the new site has substantially fewer errors than the previous site. 
  3. Student and Community Engagement. The student areas of the new website are getting substantially greater usage than the corresponding data received on the old site.  In fact, 7 out of our 10 most visited pages are student-centered content pages including the Canvas Portal, Student Campus Solutions (PeopleSoft portal), Apply and Enroll, Admissions and Records, Course Schedules and Catalogs, and Enroll at the Peralta Colleges

What’s next?

We're continuing to work on accessibility. There are features that we can’t wait to add to the site including database functionality for a more elegant display of the staff directory. We welcome all input as to the site, both its homepage and its contents, by those most familiar with a particular department’s needs and individuals coming to our site with fresh eyes, eager to find key information about who we are. A website is always a work in progress, now more than ever as technologies and our audience/community move and shift.

Calling back to what was said earlier, if this website looks virtually unchanged besides a new banner or font or color here or there in three years, we’re not doing our job. Your input -- our students, faculty and staff, and our East Bay community – will serve not only to improve the site we have, but it will serve to guide us as we imagine the next online homes of the Peralta Colleges.

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