Common Look and Feel (CLF)

Responsive web framework design

Creating a digital design and development framework to unify a fragmented institutional web presence.

About this project

The CLF, or “Common Look and Feel,” is a web design framework that was created to support the University of British Columbia’s Brand Identity by establishing a cohesive user experience for the university’s online audience.

The latest version, v7 released in 2012, provides a fully responsive framework that has since been deployed to 1,300+ websites using a variety of CMS options.


  • Digital Strategy
  • Analytics
  • User Experience Architecture
  • Product Management

The challenge

UBC is home to over a thousand web properties administered and managed independently by departments across the university to serve a variety of needs including recruitment, program administration, teaching and learning, and research.

Decentralization allows for flexibility and customization to serve these widely varying needs. Developing a professional web presence, however, requires creative and technical expertise that comes at a cost that not all units can afford.

In an environment with limited resources, how can you create an online presence that is reputable, trustworthy, and that best reflects the world-class stature of the university?

The solution

Originally created in 2003, the CLF offered the university the opportunity to establish a common look, feel and functionality to all UBC websites.

The latest version, v7 released in 2012, offered a fully responsive framework that could be applied to all websites with a variety of CMS theme options, along with the introduction of centrally-hosted assets and files on a pseudo CDN that now enables the deployment of minor version updates from a central repository.

In addition to establishing a consistent baseline standard for all UBC websites, the CLF also now positions the university to capture web analytics from 1,300+ independently managed websites, laying a foundation to inform a university-wide web strategy.


  • Fully-responsive web theme packages for multiple CMS options including WordPress, Drupal, and proprietary CMS solutions
  • Gained broad buy-in and support for implementation, with over 90% adoption rate within two years time
  • Positions the university to capture baseline web analytics in an otherwise heavily federated ecosystem