Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Website implementation

A banner image of the Wharton School logo with smiling students in the background
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the world’s most prestigious business schools and the oldest in the United States.

We worked to implement the Wharton School's new visual design and helped it establish a consistent online experience for students, unifying Wharton’s two content management systems and dozens of departments and partners under a single brand.

The challenge

The Wharton School is composed up of dozens of smaller groups – nearly 100 separate projects that all required an online presence. Wharton needed to maintain a consistent brand identity while keeping its development costs and time manageable. Plus it needed to create this cohesive online presence as quickly as possible.

The goal

  • Implement a new visual design on Wharton’s OpenText WSM environment and its Wordpress environment.

The solution

In 2009, Wharton approached us to work closely with Boston-based creative agency iFactory, and implement its new visual design in OpenText Web Site Management. Wharton was in the process of rolling out its new design system and needed a partner who understood both the technology platform and the design system, since it wanted us to be able to extend that design system going forward.

Since Wharton is comprised of large and small departments, it wanted to implement the design in a way that the smaller departments could benefit from features created by the larger projects, and for the whole system to be able to change over time without recreating each site. To accomplish this, we used a Master Project approach, which is a common pattern we employ for customers with many websites and a single visual design system. This allows us to configure a CMS to use common look and feel templates, while keeping them linked to the master project. That way Wharton (and Yellow Pencil) can update visual and structural elements of the departmental website from the master project, and each separate site will automatically incorporate the changes, ensuring a consistent look and for each site.

This approach enables Wharton to support many websites with a small, centralized technical and training team, and to push communications strategy and content creation out to the departments where that expertise belongs.

Since 2009, we have continued to work with Wharton to redesign key websites, design and build new features, and provide much-needed capacity and expertise when its skilled but small team needed extra bandwidth.

In 2012, Wharton approached Yellow Pencil again for assistance in migrating its web platform to responsive web design. We worked with Wharton on its existing desktop design system and built an approach to adapt its design for small screen and mobile devices. Because of our Master Project architecture, we were able to automate the rollout of this new design system to each website that Wharton manages.

As Wharton has continued to grow its platform it realized that the enterprise CMS and OpenText WSM was more complex than some of the smaller departments and programs require, so in 2015 Wharton asked Yellow Pencil for assistance to begin migrating many of these smaller websites to Wordpress, which is a platform better suited to its needs.

The result is an efficient, cost-effective publishing system that just works, allowing Wharton staff and departments to manage and communicate easily.

The results

The site and its many subsidiary sites have enabled Wharton as a leading business school to continue to attract potential students through its online channel.

Wharton has grown with a minimal internal team, and we have continued to work collaboratively, whether to support, lead, or take on the heavy lifting as required.

The impact

In 2009, the Wharton site won a prestigious MITX award for best educational institution website from the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange. This award recognizes achievements in the development and implementation of interactive technologies.

Wharton has been able to manage a stable internal team who can adapt to the peaks and valleys that a digital services shop faces when it has hundreds of clients with time-sensitive projects.

We’ve built not just a great service relationship, but also a partnership based on trust.

What's up next

As Wharton continues to grow, we anticipate ongoing needs for design thinking, new feature development, and for bursts of capacity-building when many of Wharton’s internal clients need to do other work at the same time. Our collaborative and responsive relationship with Wharton is a great example of Yellow Pencil at our best.