Sometimes complex challenges call for streamlined solutions — that was the case with the website redesign and digital framework we created for Penn Global.
A division of the University of Pennsylvania that leads and supports the University’s international endeavors, Penn Global consists of seven related departments — the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Penn Biden Center, Perry World House, Penn Abroad, International Student and Scholar Services, Global Support Services, and Finance and Administration. When we met with their team, we found that each of these divisions were in need of separate but related websites featuring unique navigation with complementary branding that stayed true to the overarching Penn identity.
Drawing inspiration from our previous large-scale framework projects for Temple’s Klein College of Media and Communication and temple.edu [links], we conducted a series of stakeholder requirements and content workshops and gathered survey responses to guide us in creating a custom design framework that would be deployed across all of the Penn Global programs and initiatives in a way that allows the seven departments to stand alone while feeling cohesively joined from a user perspective. Our approach began with creating an MVP version of the framework for the Penn Biden Center website to coincide with its launch, and then follow with a rollout of the other sites in the Global ecosystem.
Using an open source CMS platform, the solution we created features a collection of components that can be used in combination as needed across all sites to meet a vast set of content needs for students, faculty, and alumni — including features, news stories, blog entries, events, social media feeds, and an interactive map that can be used to search global activity by country. We selected complementary colors and implemented visual elements that lend a unique look and feel as users navigate both within and between sites — a task made easier through an intuitive search function and a full menu that shows the complete offerings of Penn Global as a whole.
After helping the Penn Global team with a full migration of their content and the deployment of each site, we ensured that they will be able to use available components to create future pages based on our suggestions and recommendations.
In the end, the breadth and depth of this solution created a good deal of efficiency, consistency, and cost-effectiveness that will pay off well into the future for the client’s multiple domains and departments. The discovery findings and development time are currently leading to efficiencies beyond the Global team, as other groups are leveraging the knowledge and the code to enhance their own websites and sharing any improvements back to the original Penn Global site. In addition, we are currently scaling the framework to at least a dozen other sites in the Penn portfolio — including the Office of the Provost, Graduate Student Center, Family Resource Center, and Online Learning — all of which are currently in development or design.