Queen’s University approached Evolving Web to help the institution realign the Queen’s website with their refreshed brand identity. The mandate was to transform the website into a compelling digital front door for potential students as they explore what Queen’s can offer, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The main website redesign also provided Queen's with an opportunity to highlight their outstanding research in order to attract new researchers and faculty.
Services: Drupal development, Higher ed digital strategy, React JS development

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About the client

Founded in 1841, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario is one of Canada’s leading public research universities, with over 31,000 students, including 4,000 international students from 100 different countries around the world. Queen’s is a member of the U15 group of research-intensive universities and possesses 24 research centres and institutes to help tackle solving the world’s greatest challenges. With a strong history of scholarship and innovation as well as a focus on creating real-world impact, Queen’s boasts a diverse and inclusive student body which is deeply integrated into the local community.

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The redesigned Queen’s University Homesite clearly communicates the university’s role as a leading research institution and global force for good, and inspires both external and internal audiences with the university’s bold vision to push the boundaries of knowledge through research in service of a diverse, inclusive and sustainable world. The Homesite is now reimagined as an external-facing recruitment platform that clearly communicates Queen’s mission and role in the world. It invites prospective students to envision what a future at Queen’s could look like, while providing a means for internal users to easily navigate through to other internal pages.

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Usability Testing

Evolving Web conducted a moderated usability study of the Homesite’s design prototype. The purpose of the test is to confirm that the design meets user and business needs and identify potential usability issues before moving into development. 

  • We ran specialized one-on–one sessions with 10 individuals from the three primary audience groups (prospective students, faculty, and researchers)
  • Each participant explored a clickable Figma prototype based on a scenario and tasks to complete on the Homesite and was asked about their general impressions of the new design
  • Overall, the study confirmed that the new design of the Homesite meets user needs and is very successful in promoting Queen’s as a high quality university
  • Through user testing feedback, we identified and solved one usability issue, two content discovery issues, and improved the mega menu design to enhance findability of the main landing pages
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Content Strategy

Our content strategy work for the Queen’s Homesite consisted of four parts: content assessment, voice and tone development, author training, and content review. Key deliverables of our content strategy work included:

  • Identifying ways to make content easier to find and understand by key audiences
  • Creating recommendations for the development of the site design and wireframes
  • Establishing a voice and tone guide for content authors to reflect the Queen’s brand voice 
  • Delivering training and a detailed manual on best practices for writing and content governance
  • Reviewing draft content for readability and alignment to the Queen’s brand voice
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Evolving Web’s artistic direction for the Homesite is reimagined. This new design was driven by the university’s new brand guidelines and willingness to push the familiar limits of UI elements to create something daring and dynamic. While the Queen’s iconic tricolour blue, red and gold palette remains, the bold and confident direction of the new brand implementation formed the basis of our design work. Our new Homesite design incorporates:

  • Audacious and impactful designs featuring clean symmetrical layouts are key to the new site’s look 
  • Storytelling through imagery that displays the diversity of the student body
  • Prominent use of the tricolour to build a cohesive look and feel between the Homesite and other rosites in the Queen’s network
  • Plenty of animations and movement in the design to capture the energy of the university and breathe life into the site
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The major challenge in designing the new Homesite was striking the appropriate balance between past and future. Queen’s wanted a bold new Homesite to reflect their renewed commitment to diversity, inclusion and sustainability while still honouring their longstaining reputation and 180 year history. Their varied audiences also meant that the Homesite must balance the purpose of attracting potential students and researchers to the school with the needs of current students and faculty to use the Homesite to find key information. It was essential that the Homesite integrates seamlessly with existing sites, while allowing for its design to be easily extended to them in the future if desired.

Evolving Web was brought on for much of the site's design work, and Queen's University was able to take it to the finish line.

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Our design and strategy work led to a prototype for a website that:

  • Reinforces and showcases the Queen’s brand and reflects the Queen’s experience
  • Speaks clearly of the university’s mission and purpose to push the boundaries of knowledge while promoting inclusion and diversity, and inspires potential students and faculty to be a part of it
  • Easily guides prospective students of all levels to their program of choice with an intuitive program finder dashboard 
  • Provides internal users with an easy-to-find way to access the landing pages and information they need
  • Meets or exceeds Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA compliance requirements
  • Clearly indicates when users are about to leave the homesite for external pages or microsites
  • Replaces walls of text with visual carousels that lead seamlessly to required information
  • Improvebilitys on-page filtering for better content finda
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The new website provides Queen’s with a bold and impactful artistic design paired with a best-in-class user experience. The new website features:

  • A more dynamic visual design that represents the university’s innovative and forward-looking nature 
  • A stronger user experience that aligns with the university’s goals of attracting top students and researchers, while highlighting Queen’s prominence in the world 
  • A integrated showcase of the diversity of the Queen’s community as well as its cutting-edge research 
  • A simplified top level navigation, making it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for 
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