The stereotypical university website tends to be a pretty sterile and dated affair. However, with the Harvard Graduate School of Design site’s redesign this summer, Upstatement has set the bar seriously high. “The GSD is a fantastic place where all kinds of amazing ideas are being generated, and we wanted to really bring out the stories and topics inside the school and surface them in a way that showcases the ideas and energy of the community,” says Mike Swartz, partner at Upstatement.
GSD’s design is striking, playful and aggressive, though it stands back and enables content to show through when it needs to. Thoughtful animations are intertwined at the right moments, without being overwhelming. Every hover state invokes an animation, helping users to interact with the content. The use of images is purposeful – none are used as a backdrop or a texture. All have a function and most are presented with a comment.
On top of all of the visual complexities, the development team behind the site took this project to another level. “Mike Burns, Upstatement’s engineering lead on this project, worked with the school to collect and modernise their infrastructure, combining it all into an API powered by WordPress,” says Swartz.
The Upstatement team knew this design was a success when leadership and faculty at Harvard summed up the redesign with: “It’s weird, but I like it.”
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