Columbia School of the Arts (SoA) is a graduate school of acclaimed students, faculty and alumni partially located at Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus in New York City. The school is comprised of four robust departments offering degrees in film, theatre, sound arts, visual arts, and writing. Brooklyn United collaborated with SoA to reenvision a website that would inspire engagement across disciplines by bringing its talented artists to the forefront. The project spanned research, strategy, design and development. This project is one of three completed in partnership with Columbia University, including Manhattanville and Lenfest Center for the Arts websites.
SoA houses a complex ecosystem of departments, programs and artists. Each group has a unique identity and set of design needs necessary to showcase its resources and talent. When Brooklyn United researched students, faculty and alumni, we found the user experience lacked the clarity and consistency needed to logically navigate the varied content. Furthermore, while audiences found the website helpful, they rarely returned. There was an opportunity to highlight more dynamic content; turning the website into a destination for timely articles, events and exhibits.
Working alongside users and stakeholders, we designed a system of templates and modules that accounted for the variety of content needs in a way that maintained brand and user experience consistency. The flexibility of the system enabled each department to demonstrate its identity, while remaining grounded in clear navigational tools to orient the users. In addition to bringing news and events to the forefront we included a variety of ways to showcase student, faculty and alumni profiles, projects and portfolios. The resulting website enabled SoA to engage existing students and alumni, while showcasing the vibrancy of the community for prospective students without distracting from key admission information and calls to action.