Case Study MassArt

MassArt home page

MassArt is a local institution set up by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1873 “to educate students in the creative process, which would in turn lead to the development of the mind, body, and spirit.”

Proving the Value of an Arts Education

Since more institutions of higher education are focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math to prepare graduates for the economy, MassArt needed help articulating the value of an art school education, especially to parents paying the tuition.

To break through the stigma of art school as a place for daydreamers, our website presents MassArt's students as "makers" who go on to success in the art world, the workplace, and the community.

Between 2016 and 2017, traffic to the new MassArt site doubled for every month of the year, peaking at 83,842 for the month of October 2017. During that span of time, the site also received an 87% increase in Unique Page Views and a 4% increase in average time on the page.

“I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your team and their approach to client service. I know that we aren't the easiest client, and your team has been so diplomatic and level-headed in dealing with us. We really appreciate it. They have been great, actually, and it has been great. And feel free to give them this feedback liberally."

Patrick O'Connor | CIO

Project Highlights

A Strategy That Led to the Right Message

To develop a strategy to help shape the project, we combed through existing documentation, interviewed stakeholders, looked at competitors, and held a town hall. Early on, a promising theme emerged. We wanted to present MassArt as a hub that produces MAKERS -- people who get jobs and who are embedded in, and actively fuel, the local creative economy; these are not just fine artists who live and work in isolation.

MassArt strategy report

Putting Student Work First

MassArt is a hidden gem: Students go on to find success and share their work in public galleries, but the existing site did not make that clear to prospective students and their parents. So our audiences could see what others were doing and get inspired, we created a searchable, interactive gallery to showcase the school's extensive range of work, exhibitions, auctions, and other public events.

MassArt interactive gallery

Making Clients Feel Heard

Once we started working with an art school, we soon realized that everyone was a critic when it came to the website redesign. To help manage stakeholder expectations and create buy-in, we introduced the design team into the project sooner and had them actively workshop the design discussions at multiple Town Hall meetings. By allowing people to feel comfortable sharing feedback, we achieved a truly creative and authentic solution.

MassArt Town Hall Slide

The Art of Development

Our developers built the MassArt site in Drupal 7, and this project pushed them to create an experience reflecting the ambitious design and architecture elements. For example, the gallery of student work ran on a SOLR search, and our developers created an interactive map on the Student Life page that allowed site administrators to add new locations and information through the Drupal back end, making it even easier to keep site content fresh.

MassArt campus map

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