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The new design of the Harvard GSD is flashy, playful and aggressive.

The stereotypical university website tends to be a rather sterile and outdated affair. However, with this summer’s redesign of the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s website, Upstatement has set the bar very high. “GSD is a fantastic place where all kinds of fantastic ideas are born and we wanted to really bring out the stories and themes within the school and present them in a way that shows the ideas and the energy of the community,” says Mike Swartz, Partner at update.

GSD’s design is bold, playful and aggressive, while standing back and allowing content to show through when needed. Thoughtful animations are interwoven at the right moments without being overwhelming. Each hover state invokes an animation that helps users interact with the content. The use of images makes sense – none are used as a background or texture. All have a function and most are commented.

In addition to all the visual complexities, the development team behind the site has taken this project to another level. “Mike Burns, Upstatement’s technical lead on this project, worked with the school to gather and modernize their infrastructure and combined it all into an API with WordPress support,” says Swartz.

The Upstatement team knew this design was a success when Harvard leadership and faculty summed up the redesign with these words: “It’s weird, but I like it.”

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