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A University of Minnesota Site Update Spotlights an Essential Vision

When an outdated site proves to be a barrier to recruitment efforts for a niche education department at a major university, Olive & Company delivers a solution that echoes the values of their diverse student base.


As a department of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education & Human Development, Postsecondary Teaching and Learning has made it their mission to transform higher education. The department’s students, faculty, and staff are all committed to this mission, working to inspire and advance academic success in underrepresented student populations. The department’s work is facilitated through first year experience and graduate programs where students from all walks of life participate in research, collaboration, and community outreach.

Challenge: Clarifying the Vision for Students

Though, internally, their mission was clear, the PsTL team felt their existing website failed to communicate that mission to external audiences. As a result, potential students weren’t connecting with the brand and enrollment numbers started to miss the mark. They wanted an updated design that gave voice to their dedication to “the changing faces of postsecondary education.”

The new site would need to illustrate the youthful, unique environment the department was proud to have cultivated. However, two factors would impact the final design: 1. it would need to align with the university’s main site design 2. it must adhere to the overarching U of M brand. The balance between the PsTL’s goals and the university’s requirements would prove a delicate balance to maintain.

From a development standpoint, the site would need to accommodate the internal PsTL team’s use of Dreamweaver as a content management tool while working seamlessly with more advanced functionality, like a databased department directory.

Solution: A Brand Illuminated

We kicked off the project with a series of collaborative meetings that included everyone on the University of Minnesota team who had a stake in the final site. From the department chair to the internal development team, we took the time to understand their individual needs before executing on a plan that would fill them. The Olive content and design team gained insight into the PsTL brand, audience, and objectives while our development staff served as a bridge between the internal U of M development team and department members.

We came out of those discussions with a unified vision we could all move toward as we worked together to design a bold, modern site that represented the department’s mission and core values.

The resulting design made use of a clean layout and warm color palette that embodied the department’s learning environment. In order to ensure we also incorporated images that perfectly captured and supported the tone established by the color palette, the Olive team coordinated and directed a photoshoot. The resulting photographs featured real, energetic students, dedicated teachers, and engaging classroom settings.

Threaded throughout the design, these images augmented the inviting experience potential students would have when visiting the site. New site content further framed up the student journey while sharing the purpose and brand story established by PsTL.

All of these elements were blended together into a responsive build that maintained a welcoming online experience across both desktop and mobile devices. As part of the final build, our development team implemented Dreamweaver templates with editable content areas that would allow the internal team to easily keep content fresh and and up to date.

Results: Mission Complete

A handoff carefully facilitated by the Olive team ensured a smooth and quick transition to the final site launch. Every aspect of the site met the goals laid out by the PsTL staff, U of M branding, and their internal development team at the outset of the project. Equipped with a site that accurately embodied everything the PsTL brand stood for, the department was poised to attract a wide and diverse group of new students who were ready to help them complete their mission.

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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.