BRANDING · UX RESEARCH · WEB DESIGN

Creating an identity for a university major

ROLE

UX Research
Brand Design
Visual Design

Team

3 UX Researchers
1 Generalist
2 Visual Designers

Client

College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

OUTCOME

Built and delivered a strong set of brand guidelines and a website

PROBLEM DISCOVERY

66% of the students in the Information Science program have switched over from another program. Only 33% of students were originally enrolled in the program.

The first step towards conceptualizing an identity for the Technology and Information Design program was to study how other institutions of prominence employ design to help prospective students effectively conceive what might be suited for them: a generic undergraduate program or a specialized undergraduate program.

PROcess

I interviewed, analyzed and mapped how undergraduates decided and choose on a major.

We interviewed 6 stakeholders in the administration, advisory and student groups. This provided us with a variety of insights, and led us to form a relationship model: that tells us what/how people influence undergraduate students into selecting a major.

PROblems

There were a variety of problems when we investigated the enrollment and marketing side

Unclear Major Information

Very limited on showcasing a major attractively, especially on physical products. Students have trouble finding out what exactly the major entails.

Confusing Major Name

People get thrown off by the term "technology" in the major name. Using only "InfoDesign" to refer to the program reaped more successful results

Unclear Career Outcomes

Students feel more comfortable committing to a major when they know others who have gained tangible results from the program.

Poor Marketing

The iSchool website doesn’t have a lot of positive reviews, and is neither visually appealing nor rich in resources to motivate prospective students.

DESIGN

We decided that the new major needed an identity that was separate from InfoSci’s.

We looked for inspirations over the world for university programs and designs, and how they were built.We experimented a little with UMD’s guidelines but eventually decided to break away and build a theme that related to the major, instead of the university.

We also delivered the client a full-fledged brand guideline, which was rooted in our findings. Featuring modern, minimal and stylish elements, the guidelines are aimed to appeal to tech-savvy, design-loving audiences.

Artifacts

"I think iSchool needs to communicate technical classes and major job prospect clearly"

We tagged courses and designed elaborate course lists that provide descriptions and categories for easier understanding. The tags provide precise information about the courses, such as the topics covered and the type of course.

"I want the iSchool community to be helpful to each other"

A dedicated chat service to allow prospective students to chat one-on-one with a current iSchool students. This would be a great way to get first-hand information about the school, the programs, and student life in general

"I want a major that leads me to specific career goals"

I designed an Alumni Wall that would provide students with a sense of career directions and also let them connect quickly. I wanted the wall to be clean but still have a lot of visual interest. I also included photos and contact information.

"I explore different major options"

A recommendation system, which asks prospective students questions about their interests, academic and career goals to recommend a major which would be best-suited for them. It has the potential to be very helpful for students who are unsure about what they want to study.

REFLECTIONS

Resolving identity crises

I learned that choosing a major is a perilous task. Some people know exactly what they want to do from the start, while others take a more exploratory approach. There are many resources available to help people make the best decision for themselves, and I would encourage anybody who is struggling to take advantage of them. With hundreds of majors to choose from, and everybody wanting different things, it can be difficult to know where to start. Good design and better methods of information delivery can help guide people to make the best decision for them, and save them time and effort in the long run.

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