A Nontraditional User Experience
With its site redesign, Bennington had to appeal to two audiences. First, they needed to give prospective students an idea of what a Bennington education entails since the school does not have a standardized curriculum. Second, they wanted to prove to parents that Bennington's programs, while nonlinear, are rigorous.
iFactory worked with Bennington through all stages of the project: Discovery, Information Architecture, Content Strategy, Visual Design, and Development. The resulting User Experience demonstrates how Bennington encourages its students to ask questions and approach problems differently, while also reaching out to students who would be the perfect fit for the school.
Balancing Innovation With Utility
Bennington's User Experience appeals to both prospective students and parents by providing two ways to navigate the site. Users can scroll above the fold, via an arrow, to discover how a question can lead to different areas of study, faculty members, experiences, and outcomes. Yet it also allows site visitors to scroll down if they wish to explore the site in a more traditional way.
Learning Through Exploration
iFactory's UX and Visual Designers structured Bennington's exploratory navigation around the college's "plan," a process that encourages students to create their own study plan instead of choosing a major. The navigation starts with a real question posed as part of a Bennington student's plan. As you scroll up, the plan reveals new questions and new connections between Areas of Study, Field Work, Faculty, and Courses. Just as each student's plan is unique, the shapes keep developing with continued exploration.
Showcasing Alumni and Faculty Achievements
Bennington was concerned with a lack of name recognition, even though their graduates and faculty members include multiple Pulitzer Prize winners, US Poets Laureate, and bestselling authors. Even the students who aren't in the limelight are highly productive in their fields. To prove the power of a Bennington education, iFactory recommended a section of the site devoted to Bennington Outcomes. iFactory also redesigned the Bennington Magazine page to present student projects on the same level as the work of professionals.
Unique, and Quirky, Features
As a campus, Bennington has a distinct personality. The new site design and content communicates that spirit and moves what makes Bennington special to the forefront, which is crucial for students who are first encountering the school online. These site elements include:
Developed in Drupal 8
iFactory's developers tackled the challenge of the exploratory nav head on, and they carried out the site's UX and design in Drupal 8. Since the designers and developers were on the same team and often in the same office, it was easier for everyone to work together to create the best possible site. Bennington's new site is also hosted with Acquia.
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