Responses by Kylie Timpani, senior designer and Jesse Yuen, UX/front-end developer, Humaan
Background: Paris American Academy (PAA) is Paris’s first bilingual design school, offering a range of art and design courses. The new site makes it easy for potential students to find information on available courses and complete the enrollment process. Beyond this, the site showcases the high quality of student works, along with the atmosphere of the school and the Paris Latin Quarter lifestyle.
Highlights: Strong visuals and a smooth enrollment experience. Our design approach revolved around presenting the impressive imagery—student projects, classroom shots, campus grounds and photos of Paris—with as much impact as possible. We backed this up with a streamlined application process that allows prospective students to start, save, resume and complete their enrollment with ease.
Challenges: Understanding everything PAA has to offer. Our client was so immersed in the knowledge about the school that it was hard to bridge the context gap during the briefing process. On the upside, this allowed us to more closely identify with the target audience, gaining insights that would help us craft a better user experience and create sharper content guidelines for the staff that would maintain the site.
Favorite details: The solid visuals across the site, especially in the news and student work sections. Generally, it’s difficult to design for pages like these because the content is dynamic and can vary over time, even if the site editors adhere to the guidelines. With this in mind, we created a design framework that would suit a range of content and images (or no images at all). For the design, we also drew inspiration from European aesthetics and print magazines.
Anything new: The use of fluid typography in our CSS—we started building this site back when the technique was relatively new. Adjusting the display font sizes and proportions dynamically with media queries was an elegant and “foolproof” way to present headings and feature text across devices of every size.