case study

CIEE

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Challenge

CIEE is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization. In 2017, they approached OHO Interactive to reimagine their site with the student as the primary focus.

Previously, specialists within colleges and universities were the primary user on ciee.org. They served as an intermediary between the organization and the students, and helped students select programs that best suited them. In the span of just a few years, the entire study abroad industry shifted, and students were increasingly planning their own study abroad programs themselves.

Their new site needed to emphasize immersive photography and strong visuals to convey to students what their study abroad experience will be.

Solution

  • CIEE's website displayed on a Macbook
  • CIEE's website displayed on two iPads
  • CIEE's website displayed on an imac
  • CIEE's website displayed on three iphones

The main goals of the project were:

  • Create a fully responsive website
  • Develop an information architecture to support over 12 different business units
  • Design the site around the customer journey, not the internal structure of the organization
  • Create an experiential and immersive visual design
  • Integrate into custom, internal systems

The existing CIEE site was centered around a large number of disparate programs, all competing for space and attention on the site. The new redesign needed to be developed around three distinctive users, and unify all the different programs under one cohesive brand story. This required moving from a program-based architecture to a user-based architecture.

The design of the site aims to immerse young audiences in the site experience. The site inspires with large photography, ambient video, and rich social integrations.

OHO simplified the overall navigation of the site and shifted the focus to user starting points, for example, the type of user (college/high school/agent), the desired destination, and the type of experience. OHO also created and implemented an alternative program selection tool that utilizes natural language.

Throughout the site, OHO worked with CIEE to tailor content and messaging to appeal to young audiences, including custom iconography for different countries based on user research OHO conducted.

Results

The shift from target demographic effectively required a shift of the entire company strategy from a B2B to a B2C mindset — and the new website design exemplifies that transition.

The new site puts content discovery front and center, a departure from the old experience. Previously, it was expected that users were approaching the site already knowing what they were looking for. Unlike a B2B audience, consumers often need to browse through various options so they can get a sense for what appeals to them as they navigate.

The new site encourages users to explore and discover their own path, which connects back to CIEE's programs.