Harris School of Public Policy - Chicago University’s Policy School - trains future generations to make positive impact. To quote them:
“Fearless thinkers from all sectors, ideologies, and backgrounds come here to investigate the world’s most complex challenges—and determine how policy can address them.”
Through a Creative agency partner that we regularly work with, we learned that Harris needed a reliable technical team to build their new website.
The design of the new site was ready, but a fall-out with the previous technical shop left Harris with an unfinished site and ambiguity about it’s progress.
Harris hoped to launch their website during Spring Break. As site traffic dips during that week, this was the perfect time for launch.
But there was a slight problem…
It was already January and Spring Break was less than 3 months away.
Everyone was nervous about timing. But as we believed in Harris’s vision, we accepted the challenge.
We set-up a video conference for the next day with the Harris and Creative teams. Here was the plan:
- Conduct a thorough QA of the entire site
- Document every issue
- Append the current backlog
- Prioritize the backlog
- Work backwards from Spring Break to determine sprint duration and velocity
- Begin work
Within one day, the backlog went from 30 to more than 150 items. This was daunting at first. But as we prioritized the list, tensions were alleviated.
From this list, the plan emerged organically: one week sprints until go-live. Suddenely, the finish line was no longer clouded with fog. This was an aggresive plan but also exciting.
And this aggressive schedule wasn’t just on us, as the developers. The broader team needed to commit to every review and provide feedback immediately. It was a collective consensus to turn up the focus to 11.
What We Made
Thanks to a team effort that spanned three offices and two states, we deployed the new Harris Public Policy website on time and to positive feedback across faculty departments.
Like other university websites, Harris has a ton of content that is regularly accessed by current and prospective students.
We levearged a mega menu design pattern, as this let users discover and browse through the breadth and depth of content in a useable way.
The menu allows site administrators group navigation items and shift the order of the groups, within the menu. This provided the needed flexibility for future iterations and A/B testing of the content.
We built multiple featured content grids, allowing admins to dish content creatively across pages.
As parent level pages featured a lot of content, a hero grid brought key content to surface.
Second priority content tems were featured in a magazine-like grid.
Flexible Content Architecture
Across faculty departments there were repeating content needs, such as the need to include program and course information, faculty profiles, program details and FAQs.
We wanted to provide faculty members with an easy way to include this content into their departmental sections of the site while also giving them flexibility in the organization of this content.
We built small dynamic components that provide admins flexilibity over their departmental pages. Admins loved that they had some creative control over the look of their sections. This approach also kept the site fresh across programs.
In total, we built more than 20 content components, including:
We built interactive panels to meet faculty needs and dish content in an interesting way on the UI.
Faculty members needed a way to post event pictures. Slideshows provided a nice way to do this and maximize page-level real estate.
Faculty also needed a way to provide program information in a succint way. A tabular component accomplished this well.
The Work Continues
We’re proud to be in an on-going partnership with Harris Public Policy university.
Thanks for reading.