Discover how M&H creates a unified, vibrant, and flexible website and brand for one of the top-ranking architecture and design schools in the US.
Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design (A+D) holds top national rankings among its four design disciplines: architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture.
In the last three years, the school has renewed its website and brand with the help of Morgan & Hyland, a consultancy whose founders are architecture alumni of A+D.
"Thank you for making the website one of the successes of my term as director," writes Hunter Pittman, Director of A+D and lead client over 3 years, "that accommodates the multiple needs of our many visitors to the site and our internal community in a clear, concise form[, and] that provides an important unified online presence for the school."
M&H delivers the following four objectives for A+D:
Vibrant Brand Expression
Unified Website Architecture
Flexible Wordpress Back-End
Present diverse learning modes
A+D is among the most collaborative, project-oriented, and multi-disciplinary schools at Virginia Tech. Upon first glance at the new A+D website, visitors see what they would see on campus: a bustling, creative, and intense place that offers students diverse learning modes.
Bold first impression
M&H achieves this first impression through a bold, legible, and image-driven interface design system, and an editorial strategy that highlights photographs of the many ways students work in the school's impressive spaces.
A new era for the +
M&H advances the existing "+" icon by revealing how the icon is constructed: four squares connected by a fifth. The school's four disciplines are expressed by color while the intersection of the disciplines defines the school.
Connects many visitor pathways
Every day, hundreds of visitors explore the A+D website to discover new opportunities or to find specific resources. With over 2,000 articles, M&H delivers a simple website architecture for A+D that accommodates many visitor pathways.
Guided by visual cues
Visual cues consistent with the brand design system show how programs overlap and establish wayfinding.
All programs in one space
What before was a series of disconnected and outdated websites now is a unified space where visitors navigate A+D's many offerings and developing stories.
Closer to the multi-disciplinary spirit
The new website brings A+D closer to the multi-disciplinary spirit best exemplified in its Foundation program, where first-year students in the four design disciplines learn together in one studio space.
Tools for visual storytelling
A+D's website team adds content daily without touching any code by using a back-end powered by WordPress and enhanced by M&H. Editors access many tools for visual storytelling and resource building.
Controlled flexibility for editors
Meanwhile, M&H maintains consistency in the A+D design system by structuring where customization can happen and by setting strategic defaults.
"Exceeded my expectations"
"The WordPress back-end that you brought to the table and the seamless integration and excellent work you did with bringing the website together under our college system, working with our college IT team on operation and security is greatly admired and appreciated. The staff training on the continuing updating of news and events was another aspect of your services that have exceeded my expectations."—Hunter Pittman, Director of A+D
"We also have been pleased with our continuing contract"
Well after the website launch, A+D continues to invest in better communication solutions designed, developed, supported, and maintained by M&H. Based on monthly dialogue and analysis of website data, M&H helps A+D expand its presentation on the web while minimizing the work left to be done by editors.
New ways to explore
For example, the A+D calendar developed by M&H presents all A+D events in a central place with no extra steps for editors.
Further evolution of features
Other recent examples of development include: a semester planning app where industrial design faculty structure their courses together as a visual timeline, an image gallery builder that helps editors publish visual A+D stories more frequently, and a cycled thumbnails feature that makes the website experience more dynamic for return visitors.
Join M&H for a private presentation of the A+D case study and a discussion about your team's upcoming challenges and opportunities.
"You brought […] the general complicatedness of presenting the school in a coherent form. The varied and overlapping needs of attracting students, informing current students, meeting faculty needs, accreditation concerns, relationships to other college, and university entities, communicating to our alumni and professional communities and most importantly the need for the whole to present a strong representation of the design values of the school were a daunting design problem."—Hunter Pittman, Director of A+D