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Helping a university offer education for social change to people far and wide

Azim Premji University

Azim Premji University is an educational institution based in Bangalore, India. The university was set up in 2010 to address the need for well-qualified professionals in the social sector. It has since become widely known for its focus on education for social change.

Before we started on this project, our collaborators Kavya Murthy (project lead and writer) and Shalini Sekhar (visual designer) had spent some time interviewing the university staff and establishing the project context. It was amply clear that the institution’s ageing website was not fulfilling the needs of its target audience. The university needed to rethink its content, design, content management tool and overall strategy. That’s when we stepped in to help direct their web strategy and the site architecture. Our goal was to envision (and implement) a website that would last the next 10 years. We began this journey by facilitating a workshop at the university campus to conceptualise the new website with the collaborators and the university team. By the end of this week-long exercise, we achieved clarity in the project priorities, the website direction and the execution journey.

Over the next few months, we took on the responsibility of overseeing and guiding the entire project execution which involved three remote collaborators. The first step was a mammoth content modelling exercise to ensure that the website could support all the required types of content — people, programmes, courses, certificate courses, news, events, publications, jobs, grants, research centres, initiatives, and several more. The website IA meticulously captured all the core university workflows such as how programmes are offered under different academic levels, how courses are grouped differently in various programmes, how programmes follow a yearly admission cycle, or how a certificate course is offered through many batches, etc. We further guided the design process to ensure that the entire website was created from a handful of design templates (such as landing pages, indexes, stories, etc.), which in turn reuse modular design components to achieve a distinct outcome for every type of content. To manage the complex content-design-development collaboration we conceived a tool called content blueprints which helped the three workstreams to remain in sync and avoid miscommunication.

The website was built on Craft CMS which helped bring together the IA and the simple design language while also extending immense flexibility and control to the content authors. We’re excited (and humbled) to have played a small part in Azim Premji University’s journey towards a more just, equitable, humane and sustainable society.