Southwestern Illinois College
Web Design Case Study
When working with higher education clients, it is of importance to send the right message to both prospective students and parents, as well as offer accessible resources for current students and faculty. Higher-ed websites are a unique challenge, in that they require the architecting of content in a way that balances both the usability and hierarchy of information and does so in a way that maximizes the visual language and messaging tone that has been developed for the new site. The key challenge in all of this is, of course, achieving that balance in a way that allows form and function to not only co-exist with one another but actually enhance each others’ effectiveness.
Finding the balance between the form and function of content is even more important when the institution is not necessarily a household name, like in the case of Southwestern Illinois College. SWIC’s new site needed include lots of varying information on each page, such as lists of academic degrees, schedules, written content. The challenge for our design team was to create a visual organization of all of this varying content in a way that allowed our development team to make that content imminently and intrinsically useful to both current and prospective students and faculty.
SWIC’s old site was branded only in SWIC’s primary colors: black and blue. One of the first goals was to create a new secondary color palette to brighten up the new site and give it a fresh, friendly feel. In addition to SWIC’s branded colors, we added a light, sky blue and a bright, poppy yellow. The yellow was especially useful to grab users’ attention to buttons and calls to action. Additionally, we updated the typeface on the site as well, infusing it with a look that has variation in weight, and also skews much younger and more vibrant than the previous site.
To evoke a feeling of approachability and inclusiveness, Matchbox primarily created styles with rounded corners. We developed a clean table style for schedules and class requirements. We also created a 50/50 style to display featured content and posts. We developed a mini photo gallery and a grid of links with a colorful hover effect for landing pages. Pairing the structure of these modules with big, bright photography of students and staff and colorful icons, helped us create a site that is as easily navigable as it is friendly.
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