In early December, BarkleyREI, our website partner, presented us with design explorations for the new website. Everything we have done to this point builds on our previous work with project research and discovery, strategy work, sitemap and information architecture development and testing with primary target audiences, etc.
Revisiting Strategic Needs
During the design explorations phase, we focus on #1 in our strategic needs list.
- Create a visual design aesthetic that brings to life the unique LR experience felt on campus and messaging that feels less institutional.
- Develop an intuitive, user-driven architecture with clear navigational pathways for prospective students, current students, parents, and other important tertiary audiences. [this was done during our site map and information architecture development and testing phase]
- Ensure that all campus and graduate pathways are represented to support an engaging, efficient user journey.
- Create more robust program detail pages that fully showcase all that the programs offer to prospective students.
- Establish governance guidelines and workflows to help ensure future site quality and success.
In the past, website design typically started with seeing several possible design directions for a website homepage. Once a homepage design was selected, the design direction would inform the design of high-level landing pages.
Since the new LR website is going to be modular in design, we flip this on its head and first start by designing and building out design elements, design patterns and components, which are then incorporated into template designs by arranging components to support the overall purpose of a page. This will provide us with a very flexible and robust website framework that can grow with us and adapt to changing needs over time.
What are Design Explorations?
Before diving in, it is important to define what design explorations are and what they are not. The elements represented within design explorations are NOT intended to be representative of an actual webpage or website.
Leveraging the LR brand, we create various Design Explorations that bring our digital presence to life by including potential user interface (UI) elements, patterns, textures, photography style, typography treatments and more. Each exploration will tell our brand story in a different and visually engaging way. Design Explorations focus on what a screen can look like, not what it does.“—Marketing & Communications
LR’s design explorations are influenced by the Carnegie-Dartlet brand messaging work LR did in spring-summer 2019 and by all of our work on the project to date. Design explorations are a starting point. They are the foundational building blocks of a design system that includes color, iconography, typography, etc. These building blocks will be used in functional patterns that are repeatable configurations of elements that perform specific functions through user interaction (buttons, input fields, dropdowns and so on).
After our selection of a specific design exploration, BarkleyREI will continue to build out the design into a component library that accounts for all content types, and how they will be displayed to website visitors.
The following two images are the design exploration that were selected by LR for further development.
Next Steps in Process
The next couple months will be busy for the Marketing & Communications team…
- Website content strategy (early December 2020)
- Select and set up a website hosting platform (by early January 2021)
- Review component library design (mid-January 2020)
- Implementation and rollout of new Localist campus calendar