A branding and web-development case study.
Pre-College Programs is an educational division of the University of Maryland. Its Upward Bound program receives federal and state funding to provide fundamental support to high school students in their preparation for college entrance. Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree.
Pre-College Programs’ Upward Bound program has an amazing track record with 96% of its students attending colleges and many receiving prestigious awards, such as Gates Millennium and Posse scholarships but due to its state of funding, upward bound program is limited to only certain schools and thus every year they had to turn down several students who needed academic support but did not fit the eligibility criteria.
This is why they started a new program, LIFT, that provides affordable SAT Prep Classes to students outside the eligibility of Upward Bound program.
Branding & Marketing Strategy
Solo project (2 months)
Increase the enrollment of students into LIFT Program’s SAT Prep Classes.
While Pre-College Programs never faced any trouble in enrolling students for it’s popular Upward Bound program, LIFT program was relatively unknown and struggled with student enrollment to a point that it hardly made any money.
1. Google Analytics Research
Pre-College Programs’ website consisted of 14 web pages with only a web page dedicated to LIFT program. The website being the primary source for information and student enrollment, I implemented Google Analytics to understand the user behavior around it.
The findings after the 2-week data collection process were:
This indicated that the traffic was not driven by the popularity of the Upward Bound program but from an organic interest in finding SAT Prep classes.
This indicated that the content was not compelling enough to deliver an amazing first impression.
The user was only concerned with SAT Prep yet the website had 13 other links not fitting this goal. Just one click and the user was gone forever!
All these findings led to one major insight:
LIFT Program web page as of October 2018
2. Brand Analysis
LIFT Program's brand was highly diluted and inconsistent logos and colors were used across the website and marketing deliverables.
LIFT Program branding of October 2018
After the research, it was evident that LIFT Program needed a separate website with no unnecessary links for users to get lost. Further, the program needed a new brand that can better connect with its target users.
Building a website without a branding strategy would have been inefficient as it would have failed to create a lasting impression on the end-user. Good branding makes a user yearn for more and speaks about your brand to others.
Before onboarding the user with the brand, it was important that all the stakeholders have a consensus in the direction of the brand and that is why I invited every staff member to participate in the Brand Attributes Workshop.
Lift Academy Logo
Stylescape to communicate the brand direction
Selling more than just a class, the website focuses on selling experience by showcasing photos of students at the beautiful University of Maryland. Further, the content leverages the University of Maryland brand.
Within a month of the website launch, we saw a jump into the website traffic with the following key results:
1. Bounce rate reduced from 85% to 55%.
2. The average duration on page increased from 40 seconds to 3 min 27 seconds.
3. Average 50% MoM increase in student enrollment.
I put in hundreds of hours in the completion of this project from Branding, Web Design, and Development. Some stages like branding were instrumental for the success of the project. It allowed me to build my credibility among the stakeholders and develop a consensus on the brand direction.
Being my first web development project, development was the most challenging stage of the project. I had to learn the Bootstrap framework from scratch to build it responsive and went through several front-end design blogs to make sure that every design is pixel perfect.
I am much more confident in my development skills after the project and in my ability to communicate better with developers to ensure a pixel perfect execution.