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The Challenge

Make CALS' groundbreaking work easier to explore.

Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) was ready to launch their new brand, and needed a first-rate web system that brought it to life. It needed to simultaneously help prospective students in their decision-making process, drive awareness of their mission as New York’s Land-Grant University, and showcase the amazing breadth and impact of research and applied work being done by the CALS faculty, students and community. They challenged us to design and build a site that made their unique approach tangible — crossing traditional structures and barriers as seamlessly as their work does.

The Insight

They are a community with a common goal: to leave the world better than we found it.

At CALS they are passionate about sharing their work with those who need it. Faculty and students work relentlessly to make life changing discoveries so that they can make a tangible difference in both New York state and the world. It’s part of their land-grant mission, but we realized that it’s bigger than that. It’s who they are. The new site had to work just as hard and be just as forward thinking, so that they could reach more people with their important discoveries, insights and research.

Computer monitor showing CALS website in front of beekeepers in the field.
Our Process

Discovery, ideation, iteration and inspiration.

Before we got started, our team spent time on campus, in the greenhouses and on the fields of CALS. We conducted several focus groups — sharing early ideas, concepts and UX designs to get real feedback from students, faculty and the outreach community. We then worked collaboratively with our CALS team to further sharpen the new architecture and design. Finally, we reengaged the community through open houses and discussions groups to help build consensus and excitement for the experience.




Smarter Experience

Custom UX, design and Drupal-based CMS made exploring a complex matrix of content simple and intuitive.

At CALS they break through disciplinary walls to make new connections and bring new thinking and new solutions to some of today’s biggest challenges. We saw the potential to do the same with their new site. We restructured the site to help showcase the work and research at CALS, making it easier to connect to more relevant experts, departments and stories. The content strategy and taxonomy framework we developed invited further exploration on a topical basis, delivering stories of CALS impact both locally and globally.

We also went beyond the regulations of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 compliance and developed a progressive accessibility strategy, as well as guidelines designed to help ensure the site stays inclusive as it continues to evolve with CALS' ground-breaking work.



Molecular View module on different pages on the CALS website.
Our Solution

A web experience that is life-changing.

Helping to launch CALS' new brand — “Life. Changing.” — the platform is brought to life in the photography, copy and design. Users also experience it with dynamic, interactive elements that guide them and encourage them to keep exploring the important work happening at CALS.

We brought the unique connectivity and interdisciplinary work at CALS to life through a “Molecular View” interactive module that guides users through vast amounts of interconnected work and content.
Impact Map module showing how CALS is making an impact worldwide.
The Outcome

We created something unique to how CALS thinks and works.

The site launched with 2500+ pages of content, and we’ve already seen hundreds more added. Where CALS once had a loose matrix of separately managed sites, they now have a unified and connected content engine that truly exemplifies the interconnectivity of their work and research.

Tilted screens showing CALS website views.

Dropping Some Data

December 2019-July 2020 YoY
22% Increase in sessions
24% Increase in users
55% Increase in unique pageviews
67% Increase in pageviews
1,000 Newsletter signups in the first 8 months since launch
1,300+ Online survey submissions collecting feedback and insights from real users
37% Increase in pages per session
43% Increase in session duration
21% Increase in mobile usage