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School of Physical Sciences

University of California, Irvine

Project Overview

The University of California, Irvine’s School of Physical Sciences needed a digital overhaul. The past website was experiencing technical problems, was not mobile friendly, and did not service the diverse audiences of UCI.

The Challenge

The site needed to appeal to multiple audiences, including current and prospective students, faculty, staff, and the general public (including media), each with their own needs.

The old digital architecture was no longer supported but there was no unified technology approach on campus. The new system needed to be user friendly and provide a new architecture that could be replicated by departments and interface with multiple systems across campus.

The Goal

Present a unified, modern digital presence that appeals to students and faculty, can interface with various systems across campus, and can be easily updated by staff. The new solution must also provide a digital architecture for department sites.

Information Architecture

The Website

We started with a discovery and strategy phase to identify the key challenges with the current site’s architecture and underlying technology. We met with key stakeholders and analyzed site data to get an understanding of known opportunities and problems. Staff, faculty, and students provided insights that informed our approach.

Next we moved into information architecture. We examined user journeys, behavior, and all site analytics. We created a new site architecture that accounted for what each audience needed out of the site and how quickly they could access that information.

Along with architecture, we evaluated content. Did content not perform well because it wasn’t useful, or was it not visible to the right audience? We analyzed data and held stakeholder meetings to understand needs and test assumptions.

Next we moved into created a new user interface design, leveraging the campus style guide while providing the school with the unique feeling it desired. We created multiple designs and led reviews through focus groups to narrow down and decide on a design direction.

With an updated user interface in place, we moved into development. Our team created a new Drupal setup on Amazon Web Services (AWS) that could be used to power the school’s site and create multiple microsites to power department sites.

Using Drupal as the content management system, we developed content pieces and animations to create an engaging, user friendly site. We completed multiple integrations, from LDAP integrations for faculty data to multiple incoming and outgoing data feeds for various campus systems.

After multiple rounds of testing, we coordinated with faculty and staff to create proper access privileges, allowing for staff and faculty updates and restricting necessary areas.

Post launch, we continue to support the UCI team on site updates and enhancements and love seeing how the new site is furthering the schools goals.