Harvard College, the undergraduate arm of Harvard University, had been historically decentralized. By operating separate websites to represent itself and its offices of Admissions and Financial Aid, users were forced to move between multiple sites to find what they were looking for. While the College didn’t need to increase its application volume, it did feel like a poor web experience had played a role in its losing accepted students to other top-tier schools.

The College needed a single, responsive website that would serve as a central point for the Harvard undergraduate experience, one more consistent with the affordable, vibrant, and academically and culturally diverse life on campus.

With this responsive redesign, we set out to turn talented, diverse prospects into confident applicants—and successful Harvard students—with content that made Harvard feel within reach, created a sense of belonging, and clarified the path from application to graduation. Along the way, we equipped and empowered the Harvard team to improve and maintain their own content.

Wireframes for key pages of the site used realish content and established a set of reusable modules. Paper wireframes made sharing easier among a distributed project team.
Even though there was only one true homepage in the consolidated site structure, we still gave emphasis to landing pages for the Admissions and Financial Aid Offices. Working with a strict palette of Arial and Georgia challenged us to inject life into two frequently-used, neutral-voiced fonts.
Video detail
In this robust video catalog, short vignettes of students sharing stories about their lives at Harvard would give prospectives a sense of what the College is really like.
Net Price Calculator
Tools like a Net Price Calculator, required by law, needed to be responsified, straightforward, and helpful to underscore Harvard’s affordability. A year after launch, 40% more students applied with a fee waiver, implying that they felt more comfortable with the availability of financial aid.
Admitted Students Homepage
A password-protected area for admitted students featured the applicant’s academic and extracurricular interests (from the Common Application) to make the experience feel relevant and personal. More vibrant, celebratory colors and Freight Sans also enhanced the section.
We collaborated with the Harvard team to map our 26 templates to all site pages and capture page-by-page requirements for the Drupal build. Diagrams illustrated high-level layouts of each template.