The University of North Carolina School of the Arts competes with the nation’s best arts conservatories and attracts exceptionally talented students, but it was difficult to showcase this with a website designed in 2002.
With a new chancellor on board, it was time to invest in a web presence that reflected the true caliber of the school. But how best to represent five different and very dynamic arts schools that each served multiple academic levels? mStoner and UNCSA discovered the answer lay in letting UNCSA’s students do what they do best: dazzle.
After more than 140 on-campus interviews, mStoner realized that what UNCSA’s five schools of dance, design & production, drama, filmmaking, and music all had in common was a powerful capacity for visual storytelling. We presented a strategy that was equally arts-focused, which would allow the energy of the student work created on campus to tell UNCSA’s brand story. “I wanted them to have a platform for the incredible visuals they had,” said Susan T. Evans, the lead strategist on UNCSA’s project. “When you walk around campus, you feel like you’re in Hollywood — there are sound studios, costume shops, black box theaters, everything. They had amazing content and no way to showcase it.”
“The mStoner team owned the project just as much as we did. As soon as I began working with them I immediately thought of them as our in-house team. They put in extra effort because they wanted to create a site that truly embodied the story of UNCSA,” said Claire Machamer, UNCSA chief technology officer.
The lead message – “We promise this: you’ll do what you love” – came out of our discovery and focus group sessions. Often when you sit on campus for a couple days, that messaging just comes out and you have to use it.
Claire Machamer, chief technology officer, UNCSA
One year after launch, the results are impressive:
Institutional pride in the site continues to run high as well. Machamer shared that the new site “sparked a digital revolution for our campus. Over the past year, the passionate voices of our students, faculty and staff have emerged through the stories featured on uncsa.edu and our social media channels.”
Vice Provost Ward Caldwell concurred. “We had a static, aging legacy website that was probably the worst example you could have for a creative, vibrant, dynamic, ever-changing university. The site we have now is an excellent example of just the opposite: it went through a dramatic change from being a relic to being a model of best practice.”
Digital strategy, content assessment and audit, web governance report, marketing strategy report, visitor interface design, responsive HTML/CSS development, content management system (CMS) selection and implementation, search engine configuration, analytics, content development, calendar integration, and consulting on campus map and interactive tour.