Make it More Brown, but not too Brown
When Brown University hired mStoner, they already had a distinctive—and much copied—website. So distinctive, in fact, that the only way anyone could find anything was through the A-to-Z index. What they needed was a site that was as uniquely useable as it was uniquely Brown.
The buzzword on this project was “buy-in,” as the previous site had been developed with little campus participation. So we doubled down on our intake meetings and strategy presentations, and paid extra attention to usability testing and project management. We then developed three very different concepts—each an attempt at balancing Brown’s rich, iconoclastic undergraduate culture with the seriousness and impact of Brown’s research practice.
Since the new site went live, page views are up 20%, time on site is up 30%, and the bounce rate has fallen from 70% to 11%. Internal users—students, faculty, and staff—have largely abandoned the A-to-Z index in favor of the audience-specific gateways the new site provides. And the Brown Daily Herald, which awards diamonds or coal (mostly coal) to things they like or don’t, said, “a jealous diamond to Brown and its new website, courtesy of the firm mStoner. We tried to redo our site after a trip across the street to Spats, but it just looked mDrunker.”
- A distinctly branded site that balanced culture and research.
- A uniquely usable site that supported rich multimedia feature content.
- A process that gave the entire Brown community a voice in the project.
- Extensive intake and usability sessions
- Overhaul information architecture
- Emphasis on bold design