UCD Innovation Academy
A showstopping new website and brand for the UCD Innovation Academy, aimed at both University College Dublin students and lifelong learners.
The Innovation Academy helps people from all walks of life to transform their mindset through experiential learning. The new website needed to convey this fun and innovative approach to education. At the same time, it had to showcase the depth of expertise on the team, the academic rigour behind every course as part of a top university, and the success stories of alumni who are making a real impact in the world.
From the initial enquiry, through stakeholder workshops to website launch, the project was managed 100% remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
UCD became one of the first universities to offer experiential learning in 2010.
Its courses develop graduates with an entrepreneurial mindset and the resilience to adapt in a turbulent world. Thousands of students have since passed through the Innovation Academy and discovered creative new ways of looking at the world, while developing the skills employers need.
But since the Academy’s ground-breaking beginnings, this approach to learning has become more mainstream. With competitor universities snapping at its heels, it was time for the Academy to re-assert itself in the marketplace and communicate its superb credentials to the world. IE Digital came on board to rebrand the Academy and create a website worthy of the education on offer.
Internal stakeholder workshops
We conducted in-depth workshops with the educators and business development team at UCD Innovation Academy. Through these sessions, IE Digital got to the heart of the Academy’s communication challenges, its audiences, and the desired user experience for the website.
The primary audiences for the website are the Academy’s learners. These come in two groups:
- University College Dublin students
Existing undergraduates and postgraduate students from across all disciplines, from medicine to the arts. They can apply for modules at the Innovation Academy to experience learning from a completely different perspective.
- Lifelong learners
Adults who have hit a turning point in their career and want to upskill. They may come to the Academy directly, through their employer, or through government-funded schemes.
Educators also come to the academy to learn pioneering approaches to learning and reignite their love of teaching. Through these courses, the Academy radiates the experiential learning approach across the world.
Other secondary audiences include Alumni and Partners – from government and policymakers to corporates and academics.
The UCD Innovation Academy website sits apart from the main UCD site, allowing for a unique experience.
Once we’d defined the user personas, IE Digital mapped the information architecture and storyboarded the site.
IE had already defined the Innovation Academy’s new brand personality and visual identity, distinct from the parent UCD brand. Our digital design team translated the high-energy, playful brand into a slick, dynamic new website. The site makes full use of the Academy’s attention-grabbing colour palette and striking geometric visuals. Read the deep-dive brand case study.
Templated course pages
Each course page needs to convey a large amount of information, as they can have different audiences, application processes, funding, and delivery methods. For consistency, the pages are heavily templated, making it easy for prospective students to find and compare these details.
Our UX experts designed a filter for the Innovation Academy’s courses, which is front and centre on the homepage. This takes the user to a tailored landing page showing the courses most relevant to them.
Around the core course content, the rest of the site brings the life-changing learning environment to life. To excite potential students about learning at the academy, the site has room for a wealth of testimonials, stories, videos, and photographs. An expanded biographies section shows the wealth of expertise within the Innovation Academy team, while stories of past student are dotted throughout the site. Meanwhile, the Academy can showcase its academic rigour with profiles of its external examiner and International Advisory Board.
With such depth of content, it was important to break it down into bite-size chunks. Our colourful page layouts incorporate tabbed sections and accordion-like components, which makes it easier for users to digest. These components also allow site editors to cross-reference relevant content throughout the site.
The IE Digital developers translated the storyboards into a stunning website full of colour and movement.
The WordPress site is highly flexible, based around a page-builder that allows the editor to add modules to a page in any order. The site is future-proofed for whatever exciting new directions the Innovation Academy may take, protecting their investment in the new brand and website design.
IE’s copywriter worked closely with the Innovation Academy team to create the site’s written content. Based on the new messaging matrix – an output from the rebranding process – this ensured every page hit the right tone. The copy strikes a balance between the Academy’s serious educational impact and its fun, playful side.
We brought consistency to the course descriptions, crafted team biographies, and articulated the key messages for each user. We then populated the site with copy and imagery before handing over to the client for acceptance testing and review.
A huge leap forward
The new website is a huge leap forward for the Innovation Academy. It conveys the unique personality of the Academy, while proudly celebrating its affiliation with University College Dublin. And while some staff had told us they were too embarrassed to share the old site, they now have digital presence that looks as innovative and cutting-edge as the Academy itself.
With the UCD Innovation Academy website built and populated with content, we handed over to the client for testing, using our straightforward issue logging system.
With any development issues fixed we launched the site and entered our standard 30-day snagging period to iron out any wrinkles. CMS training for the client’s marketing team completed the handover.
IE Digital continues to host, support, and maintain the new website.