ServicesWeb Design & Development
Telling the Georgetown story: across the Hilltop and beyond.
Students who choose Georgetown do so with deliberation. That’s how the university wants it. Georgetown eschews the convenience of the Common App in favor of a highly personal application process because they want to know candidates well. They’re looking for forward-thinking freshmen with a passion for social justice who will make the most of the school’s D.C. location.
But the old site didn’t tell the Georgetown story. GU keeps its Jesuit values close to heart, honoring the tradition of cura personalis—care of the whole person—by integrating ethical and spiritual inquiry into all subjects. The challenge was to design a site that allowed the university to tell their story as a Jesuit university without turning off the significant number of students who don’t connect their social justice values to a spiritual tradition. The Georgetown site didn’t allow for that nuance.
Composed mostly of static pages of running text, the old site was stale and featured more images of buildings than of people. It didn’t allow for the kind of storytelling that would show how the university stands out.
At GU, no voice is excluded from discussion, which means there are a lot of student organizations to represent student views and interests. More than 350, in fact, with as many websites to promote their events and activities on “the Hilltop.”
Fostering all that dispersed free speech and expression requires a robust back-end. Plus, they wanted a future-proofed site built with the latest technology that all the sites across campus could eventually use. And they wanted us to help them tell the Georgetown story in a way that would resonate with prospective audiences.
Innovation and restless inquiry are part of Georgetown’s winning formula, so we dove into WordPress’s brand new editing tool, Gutenberg. Gutenberg offers a more visual, user-friendly editing experience, in which editors use modular components to create new pages.
We designed a new top-tier site to become Georgetown’s new front door, as well as a new web platform for the University’s top-ranked School of Foreign Service. The new sites now offer content possibilities, like ambient video, slideshows, and a variety of other block types that allow content editors to tell the story of Georgetown in a visually compelling way. The future proof is in the ease of use for content editors across campus (remember those 350 student groups?) who can take the codebase we built to expand and update their own sites and build new ones. Using the Gutenberg codebase we provided, each separate site can express its individuality within the framework of the Georgetown brand.
Georgetown wanted our help to evolving their marketing voice as well, so we worked with them to define what makes GU stand out (rigorous and holistic Jesuit education in, and of, DC). We helped them develop language that sharpens their storytelling—grounded yet open, respectful but not always reverent. Georgetown also needed a one-of-a-kind events system. Located just four miles from the Capitol Building, GU routinely hosts visiting world leaders and scholars. Add to this activities for hundreds of active student groups, and you’ve got a busy campus events calendar. With so many sites (some that use WordPress and some that do not) we knew there was no third-party tool that would help streamline the events posting process without sacrificing site independence, so we built a custom events management system. Anyone with an ID number and a password can now can now submit an event and then publish it on any (or all) of the campus sites. All events are still approved, but the process is easier for everyone involved. We even provided an API that allows editors of non-WordPress sites to participate as well.
Georgetown has many stories to tell, about research, social justice and the Jesuit experience. Their new top-tier site offers a system of WordPress components that allows the university to deploy new sites for other schools, programs and centers. When it comes time to update existing sites, content editors can use the latest technology, creating pages that are more component-based, so they can share why being at Georgetown is so special, across the Hilltop and beyond.