Oberlin College is a leading, historic Liberal Arts College and Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio. I’ve worked with Oberlin on a number of projects over the years.
During a period of change and transition, Oberlin undertook the task of redeveloping their network of Web properties to address the needs of the thriving institution and create a modern, vibrant public-facing representation of the two schools.
The Oberlin project, like all higher education websites, came with a set of complex needs from a variety of stakeholders. These included: marketing and outreach to prospective students and future community members; individual requirements from a variety of programs within the school; upholding the strong traditions of an institution with a rich history; establishing flexibility and creating a scalable framework for future growth; tying into existing marketing efforts and general brand guidelines.
Finding a balance with solutions that satisfy all parties was the challenge.
Create a unified institutional presence while allowing for variation between appropriate areas
A design framework was established that provides a contextual understanding of the content and a hierarchical structure that varies the experience of using the site. Color coding of sections reinforces school (and site) organization, expresses difference between areas and unifies through consistent intensity. Color is a vehicle for expressing the vibrancy of the school. The boldness, and its acceptance, says a lot about the confidence of the school.
The story of Oberlin is best expressed through its students
The homepage features an interactive component that tells the Oberlin story through the successes and experiences of current and former students. These stories are pulled from a growing pool of stories and change with each visit. Visitors can dig deeper and find out more about each story.
Establish efficient navigation
The global navigation element at the top of all pages reduces visual clutter yet provides deep access into the two schools, the two shared campus sections (student life and campus activities), quick access to the admissions areas and links to the main college services. The header can be implemented in multiple formats, allowing for different uses based on the context and the ability to tie external sites into the new Oberlin scheme. Below this global header, there is a correpsonding internal structural system.
Photo at top: Edsel Little CC BY 2.0