Website redesign and optimization

Turning a conservative and daunting  website into a completely re-imagined user experience through a fundamental shift in paradigm.

About this project

UBC.ca is the top-level website for the University of British Columbia, a global centre for research and teaching excellence, consistently ranked among the top 20 publicly funded universities in the world.   With over 12M pageviews and more than 6M unique visitors a year, the site serves a key function of directing multiple diverse audiences to the specific information they seek from the university online and plays an integral role in how UBC presents itself to the world.


  • Project Management
  • Analytics
  • User Experience Architecture
  • Agile / Scrum leadership

The challenge

Criticized as being overly “conservative”, the previous site was a thin, front-loaded channel with nearly 80% of all web traffic focused on the homepage. Students rated the experience poorly, citing frustration with a heavy-handed use of “link clusters” that were “overwhelming”, and “daunting”.

Treated primarily as a gateway to other websites and paying little attention to the diverse needs of unique audience segments, the university was missing an opportunity to  leverage one of its most-visited channels by failing to capture the attention of its visitors.

This latest redesign aimed to improve the informational and functional foundation of the site to communicate to target audiences in a more strategic manner, while also adding an experiential element that better-reflects the university’s brand positioning.

The solution

Through an extensive process of background research, usability testing, stakeholder engagement, and exploratory design, UBC.ca was reimagined from the ground up. Working with a partner agency through the early stages into creative concepting, the final design, development and build was completed by an in-house cross-disciplinary team of digital professionals in UBC’s Communications and Marketing office.

The outcome was an entirely new web presence that included a new information architecture schema with a revised thematic navigation and the addition of an audience-specific navigation, expanded interior pages featuring revised UI components designed to build a user’s confidence in their online journey through the complex UBC digital ecosystem, and the addition of entirely new forms of experiential content delivered through a completely redesigned homepage, all within the fully-responsive and mobile-friendly UBC Common-Look and Feel framework.


  • Bold new presence, positioned for on-going growth to better-communicate to the university’s many key audiences
  • Increased positive ratings from students
  • Increased referral rates to other key destinations in the university’s digital ecosystem
  • Referral rates from social media increased by > 100%
  • Redesigned business processes and editorial practices with a renewed discipline for setting goals, measuring performance, and making decisions that are informed by data
  • Awarded a 2015 Webby Honoree in the category of School/University website: UBC.ca -2015 Webby Honoree