Pasadena City College (PCC) was founded in 1924 and each year serves 30,000+ students. Not only is it a Pasadena landmark, PCC is also well recognized as being one of the top community colleges in the United States.

PCC’s website dated back 10+ years with an accumulation of 33,000+ pages of content and 19,000+ documents, none of which was organized with an information architecture. In addition, they were faced with an inconsistent online brand identity, an antiquated content management system, and a lack of campus participation in maintaining accurate information. As a result, PCC’s site did not reflect the high quality of education the college provided nor did it serve needs of its audience.



Getting Buy-In

It would have been easy to build PCC a new website in isolation. However, we knew we needed the participation of the campus community so as to ensure that the new site properly reflected this community and would be successfully maintained by it, post-launch. Thus, from start to finish we worked collaboratively with campus and community stakeholders, keeping them informed and part of the process.

What we did:

  • Focus groups and community surveys
  • Web advisory committee with monthly reviews
  • Campus forums
  • Presentations at various campus committee meetings
  • Worked closely with PCC’s  Strategic Communications & Marketing department, ITS Department and various other campus experts and advisors

We took our show on the road and presented at open forums to get feedback from anyone who wished to attend.

Wrangling Content

PCC’s website was filled with out-of-date, inaccurate information. Many of the pages were just duplicates of the same content, while another good portion were mysteries, providing no clue of when or how they were created. Additionally, there was no structure or organization to the content.  So, we decided to scrap it all and start content from scratch.

  • Developed a content strategy (based off of the core model).
  • Content workshops with each area of the campus (150+ areas).
  • Designed an information architecture that enhanced user experience while providing a solid framework for managing content on the backend.
  • Created a writing style guide that defined the voice, tone and writing style of PCC
  • Wrote content for each campus area and engaged each of these areas in an iterative review process to give them multiple opportunities for feedback and revisions.

We created a comprehensive workflow to monitor, manage, and track progress of content.

Design, Development & Implementation

When we first started working with PCC, it lacked a consistent brand identity as a school, especially in its online presence. Our goal was to create an online visual identity that created a clear and consistent aesthetic and captured the history and tradition of the institution, while also creating a fresh, modern feel. Ultimately, the online visual brand ended up informing and motivating the college’s overall visual brand identity.

  • Developed a design philosophy and visual style guide.
  • Designed responsive global templates.
  • Created a modular system for components that could adapt within any of the templates to give the ability for each section to have its own identity and message, while still being consistent with the overall brand.
  • Front-end development of all designs and modules/components for implementation into the content management system.
  • Used the system of templates and modules to lay out the content for each area, creating 150+ sections, all with unique layouts.

Responsive menu for Pasadena City College.

Removing barriers to getting started.

Prior to the redesign, there were no clear paths nor steps for students to apply and enroll at PCC. We met with members of the counseling, admissions, and outreach teams in order to better understand their student onboarding process and how we could create a clearer path and experience for new and prospective students. As a result, we created one clear call to action which directs the user to a landing page. This page walks users through the process of applying and enrolling at PCC, allowing them to self-identify and receive steps specific to their situation.

View the “Get Started” page at PCC.

Potential students now have a centralized location for all the steps needed to apply and start registering for classes.

Content Management

Due to an antiquated content management system, many areas at PCC had created sites outside of the PCC website in order to facilitate their needs. This resulted in the creation of a fragmented network of sites, which lacked consistency, accuracy, and integration. To remedy this, we adopted a new content management system (CMS) geared towards high education. With this new CMS, we developed an approval based distributed content strategy. This strategy gives each area permission to edit and maintain its content before sending their updates to a centralized web approver. This solution gives ownership to the areas while still maintaining accuracy and consistency across the website.

Launch & Post Launch

We worked with PCC’s ITS department and the internal web team to create a strategy for the launch of the website and for collaborating with the campus at large. Following the launch, we worked with the internal web team to train campus employees on using the new content management system and offer continued support for overall site maintenance.

  • Informed the campus stakeholders (employees, students, community) of the launch and the potential effects the new site may have on their existing workflows.
  • We were onsite to help execute the migration from the old site to the new site and worked closely with ITS and the web team to make sure all necessary measures were taken to avoid any downtime and 404 error pages — creating well over 1000+ redirects.
  • Collaborated with the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing to develop a plan for web governance.
  • Wrote documentation for editing within the new CMS and created a live training website.
    Designed and conducted in-person training sessions for campus content contributors.

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