Each year, more than one million students, counselors and teachers rely on The Common App to apply to college. With so much at stake, it demanded a new site and a fresh approach to college planning.
With more than 600 member colleges, The Common Application is critical in matching high school students to the college of their dreams. As if the process weren't stressful enough, the former Common App site was difficult to navigate and even harder to understand. Our goal was to transform it into a truly supportive resource to help with college planning, applications and beyond.
"With this redesign, we are better positioned to meet the needs of students who are applying to college as well as students who are or should be in the exploratory stages of considering post-secondary education."
— Paul Mott, CEO of The Common Application
Through in-depth research and interviews with college admission experts, our content team transformed the site into a student’s virtual journey. Starting with middle school and continuing through senior year, we wrote a step-by-step guide to help students and parents prepare for college. These steps include guidance on why to consider college, and how to pay for it.
The core mission of this site is to help high school students easily discover and apply to colleges that are right for them. So functionality needed to be intuitive and exceptionally user friendly. Our research led to a visually captivating site that enables students to search based on the college criteria they want – with the accessibility and ease-of-use they need.
In the past, students had to fill out their application first, before understanding the process and their options. Aside from causing anxiety, this led to a frustrating user experience. Students were forced to access the application before knowing which materials and information they would need. Our redesign changed that. With the goal of easing stress and guiding the experience, our team developed a ‘How To Apply’ user journey – complete with a comprehensive application dictionary.
Students aren’t the only ones who visit The Common Application website – and yet, critical audiences like parents and school counselors were not represented prior to this redesign. Now, through the creation of audience-specific sections and a reorganization of essential resources, everyone can rely on the new site for guidance and support.
To ensure that the new website would resonate with target users, we conducted a series of usability testing sessions with high school students and parents from across the US. The results speak for themselves.