The Challenge

Smith College has a stellar reputation. It needed a new website to match.

Opening its doors in 1875, Smith's mission was to give women access to an education equal to men. Today, it's a progressive top-tier college with leading-edge achievements. We needed to redesign Smith's website to live up to their reputation as trailblazers.

The Insight

Bring Smith College's vibrant community to life.

Smith educates women for lives of distinction and purpose in a way that's inclusive and accessible. They needed a website ecosystem that likewise transcended the norm — one that allowed for micro-sites to tell their own stories through unique content.”
 

A drawing illustrating the distinct elements of Smith College.
The Research

We headed to campus to learn how their mission sets them apart.

For a school this unique, we had some studying to do. We got to know the college and their mission, but we also needed to understand the prospective students. We held focus and discovery groups to learn about the college across all stages of the decision-making process. Then we needed to determine the best way to create a digital presence for Smith that would meet current needs, plus continue to grow and expand.

The Discovery

And, for a small school, we found some pretty big insights.

After analyzing the data from our discovery sessions, we knew how to appeal to the candidates most qualified for Smith College. We understood the importance each distinct element of a Smith education plays in the overall college experience. (See? We really did our homework!) We then got to work creating a digital experience that celebrates those elements.

Smarter Experience

After 125 years of breaking educational boundaries, Smith was ready to break some digital ones.

To design a website that lives up to Smith's high standards of excellence and forward-thinking, we needed to make the college's incredible people and history central to the story.

To accomplish this, we developed a more organic site focused on both fresh and evergreen content modules rather than page ownership by department. This also allowed us to create micro-sites as part of the flexible ecosystem. These sites told their own story, developing unique content, within the Smith website — such as a micro-site for the school's library and for the School of Social Work.

We made a dramatic shift away from a traditional organizational structure to truly support the user's journey. 
Smith College website displaying on different devices.
The Outcome

The new site is smart, innovative and great at telling a story. Just like Smith.

When you're Smith College, it's not enough to just be good enough. We designed a new website that presents a compelling story about the innovative and distinctive liberal arts program Smith is known for. The new site is dramatically more effective at marketing communications and serving as a transactional hub for all enrollment, advancement and academic reputation efforts, allowing for increased engagement and more powerful storytelling.

When we started our journey with Smith College, we knew we had a lot of stakeholders to please and a very discerning audience to attract. We're happy to say that we see users are spending more time per session, and we've been told that we exceeded all their expectations.

Dropping Some Data

Year One Numbers
5% Average increase in time spent on website per session
11% Increase in unique site visitors year-over-year