OHO Dartmouth College

A Profound Sense of Place

After completing a rebrand, Dartmouth sought to create an admissions site that effectively told the story of what it truly means to attend Dartmouth. We helped them craft the first expression brand, and to meet their enrollment goals of increasing applications, adding socioeconomic diversity, attracting more international students, and creating a site experience that would serve as a paradigm for what a college admissions site could — and should — be.

  • Higher Education
  • Website Redesign
  • Content Strategy

Services

  • Strategy
  • User Experience
  • Visual Design
  • Content Strategy
  • CMS Development
  • Ongoing Support
The Dartmouth Admissions homepage displayed on a laptop

Leading with Student Voices

The primary brand pillar for Dartmouth is: A Profound Sense of Place. This pillar created an admissions challenge: how do you increase enrollment among prospective students that can’t travel to campus to experience that sense of place? The solution – lead with first-person stories and photo galleries from over 30 current student bloggers. Their stories are the foundation of the content strategy.

The top of a student profile page, with their name, bio, and photo

Detailed Profiles

The micro-content in the profiles is highly specific, highlighting key courses, study abroad opportunities, and internships.

The middle section of a student profile with their blog posts and they're D-plan

Explaining the Dartmouth’s Unique Curriculum

Each student’s individualized D-Plan is included in the profile to help prospects understand the flexible academic calendar that is a pillar of Dartmouth’s academic model.

The bottom of the student profile page

Flexible, Genuine Storytelling

Student bloggers have access to a variety of social style post formats to highlight their adventures.

A collage of Dartmouth Student Profiles on mobile devices

Distributing Student Stories Across the Site

Each of the posts created by the student bloggers is tagged and reused across the site. This strategy infuses personal stories into boilerplate and evergreen content pages.

The Four Seasons of Dartmouth

The design and content of the visit page changes dynamically with the seasons, to further solidify a sense of place and to embrace the always changing New Hampshire weather. Each season is populated with large photo galleries, immersive images, seasonal blog posts, and news stories. 

  • The Dartmouth spring theme
  • The Dartmouth summer theme
  • The Dartmouth fall theme
  • The Dartmouth winter theme
    • pinecone icon meant to symbolize Spring
    • text that reads: Spring green energizes creativity at Dartmouth
    • A student in the woods pouring water from one container to another
    • A card featuring a student blog post
    • waves of water icon meant to symbolize Summer
    • text that reads: Explorers own summer at Dartmouth
    • A student rock climbing ans seen from above
    • A card featuring a student blog post
    • mapleleaf icon meant to symbolize Autumn
    • text that reads: Autumn is electric at Dartmouth
    • A tree showing Fall colors in front of a building at Dartmouth
    • A card featuring a student blog post
    • snowflake icon meant to symbolize Winter
    • text that reads: Snow is the stuff of invention at Dartmouth
    • Datmouth students ice skating with big smiles on their faces
    • A card featuring a student blog post

Simplifying the Application

The application process pages were notoriously confusing, repetitive and text-heavy. To reach international and first-generation prospects, it was imperative that the new application page be as clear as possible. The application flow now changes dynamically depending on the self-identified path of the user. It reveals only the content specific to that prospect segment to make the process as clear and streamlined as possible.

We also created an interactive glossary with contextual rollovers that allows the Dartmouth team to define admissions jargon for first-generation prospects.

The Dartmouth application page displayed on a laptop
The Dartmouth application page, displayed on a smartphone

Elevating Academics and the Faculty

One of the challenges Dartmouth admissions faced was that all of the academic content was located within the department websites. This created a fragmented user experience for prospects. To overcome this problem, we designed a richly visual academic section of the admissions site that introduced the various academic pathways, highlighted the faculty, and used the student stories to bring the student experience alive. 

Dartmouth's Art & Performing Arts page displayed on a mobile device
Dartmouth's Scholars Who Teach page displayed on a mobile device
Dartmouth's Quantitative Social Science page displayed on a mobile device

Our Process

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.

A design concept meeting

Results

7.3%

Dartmouth set records for the most selective class ever, with a 7.3% increase in applications and a 7.9% admit rate.

"Visit Dartmouth" jumped to the 3rd most popular page (after the homepage and the "Apply" call-to-action).

51%

51% of U.S. citizens offered admission were people of color, and the overall class reflects a breadth of both geographic and socioeconomic diversity.