The Science of Collaboration

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Alan Wolf
Marketing and Research

Clinically speaking, our recent work with Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a testimony to Last Call Media’s approach to the initial project phases of Discovery, Strategy, and Information Architecture.  That said, the most important part of this story is how our flexible and adaptable work process embraced by both the WPI and Last Call Media teams resulted in a process and a final outcome the meets WPI’s stakeholder needs. Strong partnership-building was the goal from the outset, and it paid off in strong relationships and expectations satisfied.

Project Goals
Last year, WPI embarked on a discovery and strategy phase with Last Call Media in order to

  • Improve performance
  • Increase engagement
  • Reduce technical debt and operating costs

Thanks to WPI’s commitment to collaboration, the redesign of represents Last Call Media’s most comprehensive involvement from start to finish of any project to date.  We acted as more than designers and developers, but instead as all-encompassing strategic management consultants, working with WPI to organize multiple stakeholders toward the realization of stated and unstated goals.

WPI On Mobile

Sorting it all out
The project had humble beginnings.  WPI had a lot of ideas which they’d translated into a giant content model spreadsheet.  We meticulously ensured that we understood it all, guiding a wireframe process in which we were able to make significant contribution to the decision making that yielded a highly intuitive structure.  We took each step iteratively, building piece-by-piece, soliciting feedback, and then building the next iteration.  We facilitated a dialogue between administrators, college communications, their design department, Acquia and their IT department to map the landscape of business requirements, organizational needs, and their desired design aesthetic.  

On the technical side, we reviewed their existing RedDot site, and built a ‘scraper’ to scrape select content off of their existing site and import the data into its new structure in Drupal. We open sourced the scraper too.  Next we built a flexible layout system of building blocks that enabled them to build pages however they needed. We dubbed them ‘widgets’, WPI called them ‘elements’, but they were central to satisfying their desire for incredibly flexible layouts that allowed them to build unique layouts on any given page.

WPI Layout


WPI Media Browser

Making it work
As part of the creative partnership, Last Call Media’s creative team worked closely with WPI to improve the look and utility of the Events Pages, the Calendar and a database of accolades they maintain.  The outcome was a set of tools that present information in simple and digestible ways.  WPI’s communications team helped LCM fully understand their brand, which enabled us to showcase their identity as we applied it to the work product.

Every step of the way as we constructed functionality, WPI developers, content authors and staff gave feedback on the project as fidelity increased from a rough unthemed Drupal site to a polished release candidate.  At the same time, Last Call Media was enabling WPI Developers to be self-sufficient in Drupal so they could help build new functionality.  Last Call Media also built a custom ‘faculty importer’ that synced data from their Ellucian Banner system into Drupal, greatly simplifying the  constructing and accuracy of faculty pages.

Because we were in constant contact, there were never any ‘big reveals’ for WPI leadership to react to that represented hours of work they had to wrestle with approving or sending us back to the drawing board - they’d been part of the process at two week intervals and on board with each decision as it was made.

WPI iPad

The result
Today, the ability of the various administrative and academic departments at WPI to use the site is unparalleled in Last Call Media’s experience.  The partnership enabled WPI’s content developers, in-house communications staff, designers and developers to fully leverage the new As a result, we’re seeing profound stakeholder use of the tools we collectively built. WPI embraces our approach and recognizes the value in the systems our working partnership designed. Such engagement is the dream of every project, and we’re proud it’s being realized at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

We continue an ongoing relationship with WPI providing support and strategic counsel as necessary.  What can Last Call Media do for you?  Contact us now.

WPI Home Page


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