At the outset of the project, Dartmouth wanted to create a new admissions site with a strong focus on storytelling and student experience. They wanted their new site to serve as a paradigm for what an admissions site could and should be. Dartmouth had just finished defining a new brand strategy, and the updated admissions site would be the first expression of that rebranding — so it was imperative that the design of the new site showcased the new branding guidelines. Their primary goals were:
- Elevate student voices and first-person storytelling
- Create a sense of place for the college and embrace the surrounding area
- Increase international student enrollment
- Increase campus visits and overall yield
At the start of the project, we interviewed current students and sat down with internal stakeholders to determine the best path forward for creating a content-rich experience for prospective students. After reviewing the existing site, we wanted to interweave student stories throughout the new site rather than relegating them to a standalone blog.
First-person stories and photo galleries from existing students permeate every aspect of the site, which adds personality and legitimacy to what are too often perceived as disingenuous and faceless testimonials. Visitors to the site can easily view profiles of student bloggers that contain a wealth of information, from bios, to story collections, as well as each student’s unique D-Plan (a summary of coursework and experiences that define their time at Dartmouth).
The design and content of the new site changes dynamically with the seasons, to further solidify a sense of place and embrace New Hampshire as a destination in and of itself — instead of a stopping point on the way to nearby Boston and New York City.
To increase applications and overall yield, we worked with Dartmouth to simplify and clarify the application process. The application flow now changes dynamically dependant on the path of the user to make the process as smooth and streamlined as possible. Prospective students see only what is most relevant to them, and aren’t bogged down by unnecessary information.
The application process is notoriously confusing for international students, and it was imperative that the new application flows be as clear as possible. To help with this, we created an innovative glossary that allowed the Dartmouth team to identify important terms and provide definitions and explanations on rollover.
Launch: March 2018
Increase in applications
Following the launch of the new admissions site, Dartmouth saw the highest number of applications in the school's history. This allowed them to be extremely selective, leading to a historically low admit rate of just 7.9%.
Increasing international student enrollment was a priority for the project, and the redesigned site exceeded expectations in this regard. Twelve percent of admitted students in the class of 2023 are citizens of a foreign country, representing 69 countries.