A digital community hub for holistic student development

  • Client Location San Diego, USA
  • Industry Higher ed, university
  • Client Since 2015-05-01
  • Available Links pointloma.edu

Universities are places of the mind, places of learning and intellect. Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) strives to be even more than that. This faith-based liberal arts school believes in whole-person development and in inspiring the mind, as well as the heart. PLNU is committed to shaping students’ academic, personal, and spiritual growth to prepare them not just for a career, but a life with a deep sense of purpose. 

When we started working with PLNU, it quickly became clear that their holistic, community-oriented view fit perfectly with the people-centric design approach our team wholeheartedly embraces. A strong partnership based in trust and open collaboration, became the basis for PLNU’s digital transformation. It’s a story we love to tell, because it just feels good—like congratulating a dear friend on a major accomplishment.

A modular design approach for unique, easy-to-make pages

Domain7’s explorations into modular design—where elements of design are atomized into their individual components, instead of treated exclusively as permanent templates—has helped us develop UI libraries for the projects we create. This approach gives site administrators the flexibility to create really unique pages, on the go, drawing from a library of user interface elements, instead of being locked into a static template.

Our approach to PLNU’s site was no different. Our tech team transitioned PLNU’s three websites from Drupal 6 and 7 to its latest version, Drupal 8, building customized content modules in the process. These content modules can be stacked on top of each other and rearranged as needed. They make it really easy and flexible to prioritize content visually without having to request outside design help, saving time and resources in the process. 

The control Drupal 8 gives you over creating custom solutions is unparalleled. As far as flexibility goes, it easily trumps any other content management system currently out there.

Nicholas Monfils, Front End Developer, Domain7

Designing for people, with people

A big part of our journey with PLNU was determining what internal stakeholders and audiences need to succeed. We put people at the heart of a major research and discovery phase, conducting a series of on-site workshops and interviews with staff, current and prospective students. Our goal was to truly get to the bottom of how PLNU’s new site can serve people better and help them accomplish what they’ve set out to do. 

Our research revealed an incredible breadth of insights and influenced every aspect of our work. It helped us get rid of irritating and confusing content gaps that kept people from completing a certain task or future students from discovering PLNU. It helped simplify the site’s navigation and develop clear, concise, on-brand messaging that sounds and feels like a real-life conversation—and, alongside an audit of the site’s old content, proved vitally important in developing a new information architecture to help audiences find what they need fast. 

There are agencies out there that have talent and expertise and agencies that work well with their clients, but Domain7 falls into that rare category that does both. They took the time to really understand who we are as a university, and then applied their strategic and digital expertise in helping us create a website that we couldn't be happier with.

Marketing and Creative Service team, Point Loma Nazarene University

A consistent look that speaks to PLNU’s deep sense of community

Our quest for a new look for PLNU wasn’t so much guided by the latest trends in design, but by our commitment to develop a visual identity that’s in line with what PLNU is known and loved for: a deep sense of community and pride in its scholars, students and campus (who wouldn’t take pride in those stunning 90 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean).

Another priority was consistency. When we started working with PLNU, we counted over a hundred different headline treatments on their three sites. We condensed all their sites into one and created a consistent, yet audience-specific look.

One more thing: PLNU’s site is of course responsive, but don’t just take our word for it. Load it up on your smartphone, tablet and desktop, resize windows, and explore the depths of the site, to see the choices and trade-offs that were made. 

We identified over a hundred different headline treatments across PLNU’s old sites. The school’s new site looks and feels the same across all pages while leaving room for small adjustments for different audiences. For example, pages for undergrad students feature a fun, lightweight wave pattern, whereas all graduate studies pages sport a slightly more sophisticated look.

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