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​Emily Carr University of Art + Design website redesign

​Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Elevating Emily Carr University’s global reputation by prioritizing the student experience.

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Using student-centred evidence and concrete data to back-up design decisions, we helped Emily Carr University transform its online presence into a dynamic and vibrant reflection of the student experience.

According to the QS World University Rankings, Emily Carr University of Art and Design is one of the most important design schools in the world. 

In 2017, after 37 years at its iconic Granville Island location the University was moving to a new state-of-the-art campus. This new facility was at the core of the school’s vision for learning in the 21st century—a vision of enhanced student access, a culture of research, and a community of students whose big ideas would transform our world.

With all the attention and buzz surrounding the new campus, Emily Carr University needed a new website that reflected both its prestigious reputation and its visionary aspirations. They came to us wanting to refocus their digital goals and launch a new online platform.

Aligning the organization around the audience

The culture of Emily Carr could be described as a collective of like-minds connected by passion, operating with varying degrees of autonomy. Everybody came with their own ideas about which audiences were important and how the school needed to represent itself. Bringing these dynamic voices and varied perspectives into agreement would be a key condition to the success of the project.

Our first task would be determining who the new website was for. We worked with stakeholders across the University to unite them around a unified voice. In the end, everyone agreed that the school’s most important audience—from a list of 211 distinct audiences that were identified—was the student.

Bringing Emily Carr’s vision for twenty-first century learning to life

Put the student experience first.

By putting the student at the centre of the discussion, and by employing design principles that targeted the potential student above all others, we were able to manage stakeholders to speed up their decision making.

Establish clear criteria and design principles.

Working with a world-class art and design school meant everyone involved had a strong opinion when it came to design. To keep the project on track we sought to build consensus through design, not by committee.

Make data and art work together. 

Using student-centred evidence and concrete data to back-up design decisions, we helped Emily Carr University transform its online presence into a dynamic and vibrant reflection of the student experience.

Use colour as a differentiator.

We audited and analyzed the brand colours of local and global design schools as a first step to standing out in the academic space. Next, we worked with Emily Carr to select a differentiated colour palette.

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Use style tiles to keep things moving quickly.

Our design team produced style tiles to help stakeholders decide quickly and thoughtfully on a visual direction without getting distracted by other factors. These artifacts presented brand and interface elements to communicate proposed design directions and visual language for the new website.

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Create an information architecture informed by user expectations.

We researched and analyzed trends amongst competitors to prove and propose an information architecture based on established user expectations.

Test prototypes on real students.

Remove the risk and guesswork by testing and iterating a proposed information architecture with real students and prospective students before committing to final design.

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A university website that converts

310% increase in newsletter subscriptions.

After launch Emily Carr University saw their newsletter subscriptions—a key conversion metric for their site—increase by 310%.

Visitors stay on the site longer.

The new information architecture keeps visitors moving through the site, leading to a 20% decrease in the University’s bounce rate.

A website that reflects the organization.

Emily Carr University’s new website tells the story of the student experience as well as prove the quality and reputation of the institution.

“OpenRoad’s expertise delivered exactly what we needed—by the monthly engagement numbers alone, our newsletter subscriptions are up by 310% and our bounce rate is down by a full 20%”

—Karin Watson, Digital Strategist, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
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