When it comes to excellence in public health and social sciences, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is a world-leader that sits alongside prestigious institutions such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins.
Whether deploying research in real time in response to global outbreaks such as Ebola and Zika, developing innovative programmes to tackle major health threats ranging from malaria and HIV to obesity and cardiovascular disease, or training the next generation of public and global health leaders and researchers: LSHTM’s work makes an impact where it is needed most.
When we started working with LSHTM in 2016, the School was facing the challenge of telling the story of their work and vision in a cohesive way. Even more importantly, they felt that some of the values the School holds dear, such as collaboration and providing global access for students and staff to LSHTM’s research and services, weren’t supported by the outdated technology they were using at the time.
LSHTM asked Domain7 to partner up and co-develop solutions with a wide range of stakeholders, and we gladly accepted.
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education, dedicated to excellence in the fields of public and global health.
Equal access for students and scholars around the world
One of the School’s biggest asset is their incredibly diverse student body. That’s why global, equal access to LSHTM’s digital services and resources is a huge priority.
LSHTM attracts students from over 180 countries, many of them from countries where a fast internet connection and access to modern computers is not necessarily a given. We made sure that the School’s site not only meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at an AA Level, but also provides an optimized experience for students and staff in low-bandwidth areas accessing the site on a mobile device.
It's that drive for purpose that created the basis for the relationship between our team and LSHTM. We really connected over our shared passion for collaboration and human-centered, positive change in the world.
An authentic voice that fits the School’s “culture of modesty”
Modesty is a value deeply embedded in LSHTM’s identity. Scholars and students are involved in groundbreaking research and make life-saving discoveries, yet the brilliant minds behind these accomplishments don’t enjoy being in the limelight or receiving accolades. That posed an interesting challenge: How can we tell the stories that speak to LSHTM’s excellence in a way that feels authentic?
To help with this challenge, we led students, staff and internal stakeholders through an experience workshop. We walked participants through a number of visual exercises. For example, participants gathered around images tiled along a wall and voted for the ones that best represent the School.
The experience workshop was a perfect opportunity to invite stakeholders into the process and played a significant role in helping LSHTM discover aspects of their own identity. It also created a point of reference for developing a new look for LSHTM’s digital home.
What struck me about Domain7's team is the unique blend of understanding and knowledge they brought to this project. People are truly at the core of their work, and the whole design process was deeply collaborative. We greatly appreciated their energy, enthusiasm and commitment.
Empowering people to tell stories as they’re happening
A major complaint that surfaced through various focus groups was the School’s outdated CMS. Staff reported that its hard to use, inflexible and gathering insightful data was near impossible.
Domain7’s tech team migrated LSHTM’s content to Drupal 8, building customized page templates and system integrations along the way. Throughout this process, in partnership with Acquia, we came up with a completely new components-based way of building highly flexible websites in Drupal 8.
We built a new digital home for LSHTM from the ground up, and we discovered how to build reusable components in Drupal 8 that make content creation super flexible and easy.
A bold new look for a courageous innovator in education
As part of our onboarding process, our team flew out to London for a 3-day discovery marathon. During this time, we gained profound insights into LSHTM’s identity and closely listened to stakeholders' ideas and insights.
Walking around campus turned out to be a tremendous inspiration for our visual design team. The juxtaposition between historical buildings and technological research became the basis of a visual design that speaks as much to LSHTM’s prestige and historic roots, as it does to modern innovation.
If you look to the bottom right of the previous image, you might notice some resemblance between LSTHM’s new site and the pattern in the picture—and that’s no coincidence. The mosaic pattern adorning the floor in LSHTM’s foyer inspired the site’s unique tile-structure developed by our designer Dan.
The School’s willingness to have courage really impressed me. It’s because of their open-mindedness that we arrived at a look that’s really unique and pushes boundaries.
(Access to) knowledge is power: a refined, customized search
Making content creation easy and intuitive was a main priority for LSHTM, as was making it easy for the School's community to find relevant and up-to-date content. The old website’s search all too often fell short of fulfilling that promise, and a confusing navigation made it difficult for visitors to find the information they need.
We revised the site's information and navigation structure and provided clear, consistent pathways for each of LSHTM’s audiences. Our team created a highly customized search that gives the School control over deciding which type of content they’d like to prioritize in search results. We also broke down content into searchable categories so that any visitor to the site can filter results by interest.
Domain 7 is delivering beyond expectations in terms of design and development. The entire team is professional, responsive, adaptive and innovative—and I’d recommend them to anybody looking to execute their digital strategies more effectively.
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