and Gettysburg College

work Gettysburg College

A People-First approach to academic search

Gettysburg College, a top liberal arts school in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, came to Happy Cog for a full website redesign, a light brand refresh, and what resulted in a thoughtful approach and experience that puts students first.




Design and Content Overhaul

Gettysburg College was in need of a full website redesign and guidance on their content strategy. Before we jumped in on a new look and feel, it was crucial for us to audit, analyze and assess their existing website, content strategy, and in-house design and development capabilities in order to identify opportunities as well as gaps. Our development team was responsible for creating responsive static front-end templates and delivering them to the Gettysburg dev team to integrate within their CMS. We were also tasked with creating a system of reusable code that was flexible and scalable.


A Modern Look and Unique Experience

The primary purpose, in this case, was to modernize Gettysburg College’s existing website. Our aim was to implement a thinking and design system that factored in a people-first approach to search functionality with the goal of making current and prospective Gettysburg students feel confident on their path toward choosing an area of study. There was also the need to provide a brand refresh without requiring the college to revise their existing branded assets such as signage and logos. Higher education websites must typically meet a wide range of audiences’ needs so we proposed to do so with a dynamic content strategy.


Building a Next Level Search Tool

While collaborating with the Gettysburg College team, we thought about how students search for a major when exploring schools. We built a specialized search tool that is pre-populated with terms that map both directly and indirectly to major programs. Whether one is searching for traditional or unconventional areas of study, this system was built to make a match to a major based on our complex strategy and taxonomy. Our approach also features more natural language compared to similar institutions in the higher education landscape. To validate our approach, we conducted user testing with prospective, enrolled, and other college-aged students. 

Content strategy and taxonomy were critical parts of the project. Following the content analysis and inventory, and stakeholder interviews, we proposed that the site—much like the students, academics, and priorities of the campus, change throughout the year. For instance, content and imagery that is appropriate for the enrollment season can be updated to fit the tone for the graduation time period. In addition, we worked with the Gettysburg communications team to train them in writing marketing copy in the appropriate voice and tone. It was wonderful to see them take that framework and continue to adapt it to their needs and it's been rewarding to watch that grow and expand.


Dynamic, Student-Centric Search

We put the focus on prospective students while still giving other audiences the information they need. This resulted in a much-easier-to-navigate system and site, and a student-centric approach to messaging and search. With a robust library of photography assets to pull from, Gettysburg College can keep their site feeling fresh and seasonal. The site now features dynamically changing content and imagery based on search queries as well. Aesthetically, we adopted the design of Gettyburg’s mid-century printed materials and transformed it into a modern iteration and extension of their brand.