Supporting the Next Generation of Creative Visual Thinkers

Digital Strategy / Design & User Experience / Drupal 8 Development

What keeps an art student up at night? What are the topics that graduate students and alumni alike struggle with after a life at RISD? They are not too dissimilar from the worries that the rest of us have had — am I going to be able to make a living? Who can help alleviate these late night panic attacks? Who can offer support to the myriad of career paths that an artist can take? The knowledgeable and friendly counselors at the RISD Career Center are the ones that help.

RISD Career Center offers one-on-one meetings, portfolio reviews, events and seminars, as well as information about grants, fellowships, and residencies for artists throughout their career. One of the more interesting things we learned about the valuable resources that RISD Career Center provides is that a student has access to the Center for their entire life post-graduation. The Center still regularly helps alumni that graduated more than 40 years ago.

When RISD came to Oomph with a request to talk about a website redesign, we jumped at the chance to assist them in messaging and strengthening their brand. We knew that it would help a lot of their audience endure fewer sleepless nights.

The Previous Site

The Problem to Solve

The core of RISD Career Center’s website goes back further than 2010. The site was not mobile-responsive and needed to be. The content was mostly informational, but structured more like a treasure hunt — there was plenty of good stuff there, but it was hard to find again when you needed it. In short, the site was not addressing the needs of a modern student.

In Process Wireframes

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The Solution

Simply adding a modern content management system to the site and making the theme mobile responsive might have been enough. Oomph wanted to help make the first impression students and alumni get from the website as friendly and helpful as when they visit the staff in person. Many graduates form life-long relationships with RISD Career Center staff, and the website should offer an extension of that. We could make it beautiful, but that was the minimum that we wanted to deliver.

An extensive information architecture exercise was undertaken to get the language and the sections to be more helpful and to map to the ways in which a student transitions to alumni and possibly back again.

An artist in any stage of their career should find something useful and meaningful from the Career Center.

We also needed to support a few key audience groups that come to the Career Center for different reasons than a student or alumni. Parents and employers need to have a meaningful interaction with the Career Center. For parents , they should be able to put some of their anxieties to rest and learn about the capable support that the Career Center will offer their prospective student or graduate. For employers , they come to the site to engage with new talent and learn how to attend events, host internships, or connect with creative alumni that offer new thinking and new technological solutions.

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Making it Personal

It would have also been easy to leverage the plethora of fine art, illustration, and other visual art as the backdrop for this site. There are just so many visuals of the stunning artworks that RISD students and alumni create. Then again, the main RISD.edu site does that already and does it well.

The Career Center needed to be more personal. It needed to show students in various settings — in the studio, at events, talking about and sharing their work, or in workplaces. The site needed to continue to project the personality of Career Center staff as well as the personality of its student body. The Center is about people — connecting people, mentoring people, fostering long-term relationships. Therefore, the visuals of the site prominently show people and the people behind the process of art-making.

Support & Creative Thinking beyond Launch

Since the previous site had no analytics available, Oomph hopes to continue to revisit the new site to monitor its effectiveness through new analytics and personal feedback from our client and their students. If there is one thing that RISD students will do very well, it's offer honest feedback about visual media. With their hosting partner, Acquia, we can easily spin up new feature branch review sites to add and test new functionality. 

We want to continue to help support the Career Center and the fantastic work that they do in the future, as their graduates will quickly become the creative directors and business leaders that shape and recreate our world.

“It has been a pleasure working with you. We all appreciate your attention to detail and follow through on our very many questions and inquiries. What a rewarding experience to see our new site looking fantastic and reflecting our awesome and dynamic office!”

Kevin Jankowski

Director, RISD Career Center