Website design & development, Photography, Video, Content Management System
A new kind of campus tour
Few decisions are as challenging as where to go to college, but many don’t realize that finding the right fit is equally important for universities who compete for the best and brightest.
So how can these schools use their digital real estate to make meaningful connections with future students? That’s the challenge Princeton’s Office of Admission brought to Bluecadet. Working in close collaboration, together we built a warm, accessible admission site from the ground up that immerses visitors in campus culture, dispels stereotypes, highlights the qualities that set Princeton apart, and gives prospective students the tools to turn inspiration into action.
Setting the tone
Translating the experience of life at Princeton required immersing ourselves in campus culture. We developed a nimble production strategy that allowed us to capture authentic moments in lecture halls and laboratories, during choir rehearsals and track workouts, and, perhaps most importantly, during the quiet moments in between. Teams from Princeton and Bluecadet agreed that warmth and accessibility would be the foundation of the project, prioritizing in-person meetings and on-campus design reviews. By the time our production team wrapped their photo and film shoots, we knew our favorite lunch spot (Olives) and felt at ease dispensing directions to anyone who asked.
A moving canvas
To recreate the feeling of visiting campus on a warm spring afternoon, the site uses ambient video vignettes of student life in places visitors might expect to see still photography. This technique allows prospective students a window into a buzzing hive of academic and extracurricular endeavor without forcing them to hit “play” on a heavily produced linear video. Layered on this moving canvas are quotes from faculty and students prompting deeper dives into areas of academic study and campus life. The low-profile production approach allowed our team to fly under the radar, capturing authentic moments and documenting everything from chemistry experiments to commencement activities at graduation. In the end, we were able to deliver an entire library of footage that the Princeton team can use to keep the site fresh long after launch.
Using numbers to tell stories
Would it surprise you to know that 84 percent of recent Princeton graduates did so free of college debt? Or that the student body is equal parts first-generation college students and children of Princeton alumni? Or that 43 percent of Princetonians are Americans of color? The university takes pride in their long-standing commitment to removing the barriers to a world-class education, and they’ve quantified the results of their efforts in concise sets of statistics which lend themselves to compelling animated infographic overlays. The result is non-traditional storytelling that simultaneously trumpets the university’s values and dispels outdated stereotypes with economy and grace.
Emphasizing the human connection
With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 5:1, Princeton is one of the few elite universities in the nation where the professor-student relationship is considered of primary importance. Princeton’s faculty includes Nobel laureates, Pulitzer recipients, and best-selling authors, and interacting with these exceptional minds as an undergraduate is one of the ways Princeton stands apart. To convey this unique experience, our production team made environmental portraits of 14 professors and administrators, drawing out their natural personalities and taking website visitors behind the curtain of academia.
Built for accessibility
Delivering a warm, accessible website didn’t end when the photo shoots wrapped. Our development team created an easy-to-update, custom-built Drupal 7 content management system that puts full control of the site in the hands of Princeton’s staff. The new site meets Web Content Accessibility Guideline AA specifications—the gold standard for designing online experiences inclusive to people with disabilities—and, inspired by Princeton’s approach to admission, it’s built to be totally responsive on mobile devices, even those on networks as slow as 3G. This ensures that your location on a map—or on the socioeconomic spectrum—won’t dictate your ability to experience the website and maybe just find the right fit.
Awwwards – Honorable Mention
Communications Arts – Webpick of the Day