ISTUD is the first independent business school in Italy, with a strong focus on humanistic management styles. Its strong culture of serving the community forms the basis for its mission to support individuals, institutes and business in developing their economic and social value.
In 2008, ISTUD asked Experientia to design a new website for the school, based on user requirements and using the most up-to-date content filtering systems. From 2009 to 2012, Experientia has continued to design communications material for ISTUD, ensuring a consistent brand representation. This includes brochures for new course content, marketing material, catalogues, event invitations and several books about the school.
The real business challenge was to attract people to a brand that had previously served a niche market, and now wanted to expand beyond this. ISTUD needed to broaden its image to also appeal to business people wanting to update their skills, and people returning to study.
To highlight ISTUD’s mission and culture of community service and human values, there was a strong need to design a system that allowed the school’s rich content to emerge, in a way that would bring young people to the site.
Within this framework there was an additional challenge: the different departments of the school each had their own taxonomies and languages. We needed to find a classification system that was accepted by all, and design information architecture that was based on common understandings of priorities and used a shared language.
Using Experientia’s people-centred approach, we involved university specialisation students, and people updating their business skills and knowledge in a series of individual formative evaluations. We conducted comparative tests of the existing website and competitors’ websites.
In participatory design sessions, we carried out card-sorting exercises to design the new navigation system, deciding on a guided navigation filtering system.
Additional assets were created through copywriting, photography and a new graphic language.
Prototyping and testing
The generated concepts were then validated through more user tests, with adjustments made before the final version of the site was decided on.
The project developed a strong design process, guided by the successful participatory design sessions. The use of this technique to design the guided navigation system is not common, making its realisation both a big accomplishment and a validation of a new method.
The resulting collaborative filtering system offers people more than just the information they search for, providing immediate links to contextual information. People do not need to leave the page that they are on to see related, relevant content.
This serendipity of information and ease of use creates a website that is easily navigable, and that complements the visual freshness and attractiveness of the site.
Ensuring a consistent brand representation, in addition to the website, Experientia designed marketing materials and a series of brochures outlining course offerings for this market. The brochures have been designed to be not just an informative and promotional material but an inspirational tool for people looking to improve their skills and knowledge.
Experientia has continued to design the communications materials for ISTUD, including event invitations, and three books about the school.
The site is online at www.istud.it.
ISTUD catalog 2010 lowres [PDF]