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Following the Rules with an Inspired Web Design for North Hennepin Community College

After a series of frustrations with web design firms over the years, a busy community college decided to redesign their own website. When the site they created didn’t reflect their brand or accommodate the way they communicated to their community, they looked to Olive & Company to renew their hope in outside agencies.

North Hennepin Community College is one of the largest community colleges in Minnesota. They offer two-year degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and professional training programs. More than 10,000 new students enroll annually and often their first point of contact is the NHCC website.

Challenge: Reflecting Diversity and Staying Compliant

One of the NHCC team’s primary requests was that the new website properly reflect the diversity of the students and faculty. It was also vitally important that the design and code structure adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to comply with state mandates.

“(Olive) not only met, but also exceeded my expectations. Their design concepts were creative, thoughtful, and in perfect alignment with our brand identity.”

The review process presented a unique challenge as well. It was far more involved than traditional web projects. NHCC needed to engage their entire community—including students, faculty, and staff—throughout each phase of the approval process. The web design team would need to present concepts to a large, varied group of stakeholders and synthesize the broad range of feedback into actionable revisions.

Solution: A Fresh Approach

We worked with NHCC’s website team to gather requirements, determine needs, and define goals. Because different parts of the project would be addressed under separate contracts, possibly with additional players, we familiarized ourselves with their site so we could act as development advisers to make appropriate functionality and design recommendations throughout the process.

We developed a series of design concepts that reflected the NHCC community’s diversity and provided much-needed flexibility for content display. We presented these concepts to the entire campus through open invite lecture hall meetings and live streaming with archived access. This meeting format provided opportunity for input from students, faculty, and staff. Discussions ranged from small design details to large process and maintenance issues. It allowed all stakeholders an opportunity to provide input and have their voices heard.

Out of this intensive process was borne an a rich, captivating website comprised of modular elements that allowed the flexibility the college needed to highlight events, illustrate diversity, and provide in-depth program information. A deep palette and color blocking were used to segment content and make it easy for current and potential students to quickly find the information they needed. The final concept was also translated into a mobile version of the site, making it easy for the NHCC community to quickly find the information they needed from their phones. We delivered:

  • Complete website redesign
  • Mobile site design and development
  • Multiple page templates
  • Alternative student/staff home page template to function as a dashboard
  • Fully developed page templates in multiple formats to accommodate WCAG

Result: Eclipsed Expectations

NHCC was thrilled with their new website and mobile site. They truly valued the large-scale collaborative process. With our help, their team had successfully navigated the politics of a large group of stakeholders. A fact that was evident when they had an approved design and were able to move onto content development discussions. As an added bonus, the Olive & Company team had successfully restored NHCC’s faith in partnering with an outside agency.

“(Olive) not only met, but also exceeded my expectations. Their design concepts were creative, thoughtful, and in perfect alignment with our brand identity. They sorted our feedback well—implementing things that made sense and talking us out of things that didn’t. With a solid understanding of our target audience and our website goals, they delivered a cost-effective, functional, user-friendly website design.

The Olive team is professional, knowledgeable and fun to work with. They present well to stakeholder groups, handle organizational conflict and internal politics well, and use project management skills effectively to make sure they deliver a quality product according to established deadlines.”

– Carmen Shields, director of marketing and development, Advancement Office, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System

Olive & Company

Founded in 2003, Olive & Company has dedicated our existence to a single purpose: providing finely tuned Modern Marketing solutions that drive brands and deliver business results. By helping brands stay in tune with emerging trends and technology, we give them the tools they need to adapt and refine their strategies to better engage and inspire their audiences.