6 Tips for Choosing Your Web Partner in the Academic Landscape

Oct 05, 2023
By Solomiia Dobrianska

In today's dynamic digital world, colleges and universities must adapt and optimize their online platforms to communicate their mission, engage their audience, and provide valuable resources.

The University of Montana embarked on a comprehensive journey to overhaul its website and align it with its organizational goals, led by Todd Kipfer, Associate Project Director. 

We recently had a brief but valuable conversation with Todd and this dialogue inspired us to further explore the dynamics and nuances of academic collaborations with technology partners.

The process of improving a digital infrastructure typically begins with the selection of a partner with expertise. Let's draw key recommendations from the University of Montana's partnership.

Identifying Challenges

1. Identifying Challenges: Understand Your Needs

Start by recognizing the issues your institution is facing. In the case of the University of Montana, the challenges were related to incorporating technology and transforming the website. The project started with identifying the difficulties that needed to be addressed regarding technology and strategic goals. Once you have identified the challenges, you can find a vendor who can help you address your specific needs.

The University of Montana wanted to improve its website and upgrade to the newest Drupal version for a better user experience. We assisted them in achieving this goal.

2. Aligning Values and Objectives: The Right Fit Matters

In your search for a vendor, consider whether the vendor's values are in line with your institution's mission. The University of Montana chose Five Jars because they shared the same values.  When both parties share a common goal, it demonstrates commitment.

Budget is also an important factor to consider. Choose vendors that fit your budget and provide excellent value for cost, like Five Jars. It's proof that quality service is not a costly proposition.

During their search for change, the University of Montana discovered Five Jars as a partner through a careful online search. Five Jars impressed with their ability to align with the university's goals and stay within budget, demonstrating their commitment to providing valuable solutions.  We created a harmonious relationship based on shared goals and principles through the unique combination of budget-friendly services and quality results. 

Aligning Values and Objectives

3. Communication and Understanding: Bridge the Gap

Clear communication is essential for a successful partnership. Make sure the vendor understands your exact needs. Todd Kipfer suggests using tools like Zoom for in-depth discussions, stressing the importance of participating in extensive conversations to ensure both parties understand each other's specific demands. 

Effective communication necessitates the expression of needs and attentive listening. It also requires an understanding of the unique obstacles, goals, and ambitions of the educational institution. 

We have general ideas and [Five Jars] helped us translate those into specific applications that can be developed.

Todd Kipfer,
Associate Project Director of the University of Montana

4. Project Management Proficiency: Timely Deliverables

A good project manager, who delivers milestones on time, ensures a smooth project progression. Five Jars managed the project efficiently, delivering on time and showing their ability to handle the project seamlessly.

Effective communication channels among the involved parties further accentuated the efficiency of managing the project. Using email and messaging apps streamlined how information flowed so all stakeholders knew the project's status, boosting transparency and making decision-making faster.

Communication and Understanding

5. Measurable Outcomes: Demand Tangible Results

In the always-changing digital world, getting measurable results from a potential supplier is a top priority. The importance of tangible results cannot be overstated, according to Todd's observations and Clutch's review.

The partnership with Five Jars at the University of Montana is a perfect example of demanding concrete outcomes. Five Jars, as a vendor, proved their ability to deliver as promised with the successful launch of the production and staging sites. 

However, it is important to look beyond the current project and focus on tangible results.  To achieve this, measurable success metrics that align with the institution's goals, such as increased website engagement, faster load times, better user experience, and improved accessibility, should be established in advance.

Inquiring about a vendor's past projects or references can offer deeper insight into their ability to deliver measurable results. This comprehensive view of a vendor's expertise allows for an informed decision based on their demonstrated success in similar projects.

The team was highly professional and thorough, and their services were cost-effective.

Todd Kipfer,
Associate Project Director of the University of Montana,
Clutch review

6. Post-Implementation Support: Building a Sustainable Partnership

After finishing a project successfully, it's essential to provide continuous support and stay engaged. The involvement of the University of Montana with Five Jars highlights the need for cultivating a long-lasting relationship even after the completion of the project. Todd Kipfer from Montana State University stressed the significance of clear communication and understanding the desired goals while collaborating with potential partners. 

The teamwork showed that Five Jars not only succeeded in completing the project but also displayed a dedication to providing continuous support. This kind of commitment is vital for tackling any issues that may arise after the implementation, making the required modifications, and integrating future upgrades.

Todd Kipfer emphasized the importance of having a supportive and cooperative partner. This engagement involves more than just finishing the project and aims for a long-term partnership.

To simplify the vendor selection process for your organization, we offer a detailed RFP template tailored to educational institutions. This template provides a structured approach that meets the unique requirements of universities. You can access the RFP template and start streamlining your digital transformation. This will create an environment for innovation and advancement within your academic domain.

The Road Ahead: Insights and Advice

To summarize, the cooperation between the University of Montana and Five Jars reveals the positive impact of productive web development and strategic partnerships in higher education. To succeed, institutions should focus on long-term relationships and consider effective communication, shared values, ongoing support, and wise financial decisions. By following these guidelines, organizations can enhance the educational experience and drive digital innovation. These strategies give higher education institutions the ability to navigate the digital landscape with confidence and achieve lasting positive results. 

The Road Ahead
Solomiia Dobrianska
PR Manager with over 3 years of experience, including working with nonprofits and NGOs. Dedicated to utilizing her skills to enhance the visibility and reach of the company within the community.


Get a stunning website, integrate with your tools,
measure, optimize and focus on success!