UBC’s new Strategic Plan comes to life online

We’re proud to work with the University of British Columbia as they usher in a new era. Here’s how we collaborated to conquer a complex project.

UBC's strategic plan, “Shaping UBC’s Next Century" website shown on laptop The University of British Columbia recently unveiled a new strategic plan, “Shaping UBC’s Next Century,” to articulate their vision, purpose, and values for the future. This plan has been presented with a print publication designed by UBC and a new responsive website designed and built by OpenRoad.

While the site alone was a big undertaking, it was only a piece of the project’s puzzle. The primary document—a 73 page print publication—had yet to be finalized and content was still being written and structured while the site was being developed. Our challenge was meeting the tight deadline, building a site to accompany a text that was in development, and working with UBC’s large and complex team of stakeholders. The goal was to bring the two teams together to produce print and digital content that was aligned, and showed no evidence of having been created by different teams.

Consensus building: time well spent

For large projects with many stakeholders, getting everybody on the same page often presents a challenge. When paired with the absence of an existing visual language for the project, a lack of consensus really had the potential to slow things down. In order to work efficiently and simultaneously with UBC’s internal Brand and Marketing team to meet our respective deadlines, we hosted a “design jam” at our office. The aim of a design jam is to quickly surface the best creative ideas and come to consensus on a single unified approach. This process brought the two teams together to get context, share inspiration, sketch ideas, and vote on a design direction.

While consensus building requires more of a time investment upfront, it’s always worthwhile. Everybody was able to work more efficiently because we had already shared ideas and clarified the direction. For this project, sharing our internal processes for successful collaboration with the client proved to be a great solution. By integrating the two teams from the onset, we ensured everybody was on the same page, making it possible to work separately but simultaneously on our respective tasks.

UBC collaborates with OpenRoad
The two teams take a moment to review sketches.
UBC's Strategic Plan processExchanging ideas and achieving consensus with UBC's Brand and Marketing team.

Finding a unique solution to the client’s needs

Another challenge presented to both teams was that the content for the site was changing constantly. The deadline for the site was very close to that of the strategic plan itself, meaning we couldn't wait for finalized content before designing and developing the site. We kept the project moving forward by building out a WordPress template with the information architecture for the client. This skeleton site made it possible for them to write, revise, and restructure their content as needed, while seeing how it would come to life online. The skeleton site proved to be a practical solution, allowing our integrated teams to work efficiently towards the deadline.

UBC strategic plan vision and values website page shown on iMac, iPad, iPhone
Ensuring the client could see how the site would come to life while they worked on their content was key to this project's success.

Cookie-cutter just doesn’t cut it

If we hadn’t integrated the two teams to collaborate and build consensus, this project’s deadline would have been unrealistic. By offering up different ways to collaborate, we were able to work with UBC’s Brand and Marketing team more efficiently, and meet their strategic objectives. We understand the importance of being flexible because every client and every project are different, meaning a cookie cutter approach just doesn’t cut it. The result in this case is a beautiful, responsive site designed for drawing to and building excitement around UBC’s new strategic plan. The print and digital iterations of the plan are cohesive, the deadline was met, and all the stakeholders are happy.

We’re proud to be working with one of the world’s leading academic institutions as they embark on this next century, and look forward to seeing them infuse their values of innovation, collaboration, and inclusion into all that they do.

Are you working on a complex project that needs a flexible team to make it happen? Get in touch with us about how we can work together.