Academy of Art University


Shaping Generations of Artists, Thinkers and Leaders

The Academy of Art University was founded in 1929 in the San Francisco Bay Area with a vision focused on the importance of design, advertising and the fundamentals of art. After many generations of graduates, the Academy of Art has cemented itself as an industry leader and the largest art university in the United States. Our focus with the academy has been to modernize their digital brand and provide them with the tools to grow and expand across web marketing, on-line education and the Learning Management System (LMS).


  • Digital Strategy
  • Elastic Search
  • Software Development
  • User Journey Mapping
  • User Research
  • UX/UI Design

Project Type

  • Lead Generation
  • Learning Management System Integrations
  • Marketing Website
  • Wordpress Multisite
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UX Strategy

Understanding Gen Z’s Perspective and Needs

While we often focus on workshops, hackathons and focus groups, we decided to take a less traditional approach for our work with the Academy. We concentrated on engaging students as they went about their day-to-day activities such as talking over coffee, smoking in nearby allies, and working in campus lobbies. We even took the opportunity to teach multiple UX classes where we discussed best practices and absorbed the students’ feedback and ideas.

Understanding Gen Z’s Perspective and Needs

High School Student

Senior year students choosing college

Understanding Gen Z’s Perspective and Needs


High school students' parents and family members

Understanding Gen Z’s Perspective and Needs

Working Professional

Shift in career - interested in Graduate programs

Understanding Gen Z’s Perspective and Needs


Military Members & Veterans

Content Goals

Wireframing the Story

Based on our research and UX phase, the need for a holistic reorganization of all pages, global information architecture and content strategy was necessary. To lead the team on this front, we worked with multiple stakeholders and their departments to strategize around content prioritization revealing many opportunities for new approaches, search engine optimization and split testing in the real world.

  • As a result of card sort workshops, affinity mappings and persona development we decided to use a mega menu for organization.
  • As a result of user journey mapping, we elected to use local navigation strategies to organize the 28 different “school of” micro-sites.
  • In page content organization was realigned in an effort to tell better stories and engage users with narratives.
  • We built out the enterprise WordPress CMS installation from the ground up to support new content, and to allow for a modular block based system that allowed content authors to experiment with direct ordering, variations of content and to test the funnel performance for these different page versions.
Visual Design

Capturing the Brand Essence

To hone in on the aesthetics of the new digital brand, we led multiple workshops to prioritize how we wanted to position the brand in the look and feel stage, eventually creating both a design principle document as well as a brand mission statement document to be used as a grounding stone and to avoid subject feedback in the process.

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User Testing

See the Design Through the Eyes of Users

We conducted interviews with students, faculty and stakeholder to collect their feedback and ensure that our design is communicating the right message, feel and personality to target audience.

We focused on:

  • brand value and personality.
  • first impressions.
  • content and flow of the page
  • any possible confusions that students might have about design.
Art Direction

A Goals Oriented Approach to Asset Development and Placement

By continually refocusing on our design principles, brand mission statement and content inventory, we were able to drive impact though content creation, video mixes and photography that resonated with our target audience.

Responsive Design

Meeting Generatrion Z on Their Tablets and Phones

We were not surprised by the overwhelming commitment from our target audiences to their mobile devices, reinforcing the need for speedy page loads, a systemized approach to serving optimized and cropped assets, as well as information architecture and navigation which translated to mobile in a fluid way.

Made with Love
in The Bay Area
We're an award-winning interactive agency specializing in digital applications, user experience design, brand alignment, and technical strategy.