Communicating with internal and external audiences

Most university offices need a website, but the purpose of those sites can vary. A lot. The staff available to create and maintain a site also varies. For the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (OEC), we found ourselves working with a group who already understood the messaging needed on their site (at a high level). They also had an in-house developer who would be able to do the technical work on the site. What they needed was a design that would be on-point, and a plan to help internal and external audiences find answers to complicated questions about university policy and relationships.

Project Goals

1

Website design

The OEC website needed to be unique and on-brand for the university. The designers had to be familiar with university standards and able to exercise creativity within those limits.

2

Information architecture and content strategy

Content is king—content is also confusing. OEC needed a plan to figure out what content belonged on the website and how it should all be organized to be clear and navigable without being overwhelming. Their information architecture had to connect this content to page types and audiences to show how it would achieve strategic goals.

3

Support for in-house developer

OEC’s team included a talented developer who would be able to create the site. They needed their design team to be willing to work with him, supporting questions and communication back and forth throughout the process.

50.8


A recent study evaluated over 49,000 of the world’s most popular education website home pages found on average 50.8 accessibility errors per page. Is your site design helping or hurting?

Strategy

Sometimes strategy isn’t about outreach, it’s about explanation. OEC wasn’t trying to drive conversion-oriented traffic to their website; they were providing a useful resource for curious users and people who just began engaging with their office. Strategically planning the type of content needed on the site, and where each should appear, allowed us to give OEC a simple yet effective information architecture, and a web presence that will be easy to maintain for years.

Design

The design challenge for the OEC website was to stay within the university brand, give the office a distinct identity, and make it clear that it’s part of a set of groups at the university who are dedicated to entrepreneurship. Ultimately, we created not only an OEC identity, but also a strategic description of all entrepreneurship-related university entities, making it clear how they were distinguished, which design elements were appropriate to each, and who the main audiences were.

Development

We didn’t develop this site, but we did everything necessary so the client’s team could. It’s not enough to design what a site should look like; good site design includes paying attention to how things will work. And a good working relationship involves passing that information, clearly and concisely, to the client’s developer. This kind of work is easy to overlook, but it’s crucial to successfully coordinate with client teams. We rely on purposeful and well-thought-out information architecture to ensure that the site’s designers, developers, and content writers are always on the same page about how each part of the website should function.

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