Pushing Forward The Disciplines of Art and Design With A Simple Yet Flexible Web System

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Pushing Forward The Disciplines of Art and Design With A Simple Yet Flexible Web System

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis came to us with a clear need: The site we created for them seven years ago was in need of some strategic development enhancements and a much-needed design refresh. As an institution that helps foster innovation at the intersection of art, architecture, and design, it was important that their site continue to reflect their mission.

For the original project, Palantir was a technical partner, responsible for architecting and building a Drupal-based CMS platform that brought together four different Web properties under one roof, allowing site administrators to customize elements as needed to attract prospective students, provide important information to current students and faculty, and integrate with the Kemper Art Museum’s collection management system.

Coming back to the project seven years later, we had a clear understanding of the school’s updated business goals informed by a discovery phase. The school wanted to remove a design element that was blocking most content from visitors. In addition, they wanted to ensure news and other relevant info was surfaced in an appropriate way for site visitors, and that navigation was equally as easy-to-understand. Finally, this content needed to be displayed differently depending on the type (news, events, and so on). Through all the changes, we were able to give more control to the site edits to update more pieces of the site without the aid of a developer.

We immediately dug in by building wireframes and prototypes, focusing on the homepages for both the school and the associated Kemper Art Museum. The homepages needed to be easy to use, and provide high impact for the audience.

While each destination uses the same small-scale design system and structurally-similar elements, we utilized and extended the color palette that already existed to differentiate it clearly for visitors. Beyond the homepage, we created a global template for interior pages and debugged a number of code-related issues as needed.

Throughout the project, the Sam Fox team was fantastic to work with; responsive, collaborative, and provided invaluable, thorough feedback. This added greatly to the project's success. In fact, while on a wrap-up call with Sam Fox once the site was launched, other stakeholders were popping in to congratulate them on the new site and how fantastic it was.

We pride ourselves in our strategy, design, and development work, and this dedication to our craft helped us complete the project in less than a month. The true success here, however, is our focus on achieving what success meant for our client in providing refreshed design and navigation, displaying content effectively to its audience while remaining on-brand, with a platform that's both easy to use and extend. And meeting these goals on time and on budget with dramatic results.