Academic websites are rich content resources celebrating student engagement, faculty research, even news and events for the general public. The Ford School, with an international reputation has deep and rich content on its site to celebrate and needed a website to match its stature.
“We wanted to have a site that represented the mission and vision of our school as a community dedicated to the public good,” said Ford School dean Michael S. Barr. “It was important, too, that our site convey the energy, innovation, collaboration, and impact that are hallmarks of our school. The new site beautifully captures who we are and how we go about our work.”
The Ford School, ranked #1 in social policy and #2 in policy analysis, according to the U.S. News and World Report, confers bachelors, masters and PhDs in a supportive and vibrant community that applies rigorous study to some of the world’s most pressing issues.
It’s worth noting that the project kicked off mid-March 2020 on the first day the Ford School team began working fully from home due to the pandemic. While we are delighted with the outcome of the site, we are especially pleased that the team didn’t miss a beat during a time of disruptive change.
We made a few adjustments because we were not able to meet in-person so that, as it often does, our effort could begin with research to understand the unexpressed needs of users. Surveying a range of user types, we suggested main navigation updates that position the site’s content to prospective students interested in public policy. One suggestion that was implemented was changing “Academics” to “Programs & Courses.” After surveys and top task testing, users let us know that “Academics” was not their first choice when seeking information on the types of degrees and course work offered.