An International Challenge: Designing Georgetown SFS-Qatar

Doug Avery, Former Senior Developer

Article Category: #News & Culture

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Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (GUQ) can be a little difficult to explain: it's a four-year school in tiny, Saudi Arabia-adjacent Qatar that offers full Georgetown degrees to students from around the world. Students get access to Georgetown’s excellent curriculum, professors, and service-learning opportunities — but in a unique, international environment that lends itself to the three major topics: International Politics, Culture and Politics, and International Economics.

Viget was excited to get the chance to partner with the GUQ team on a redesign of its website (you can see it here). During the project, Georgetown was building the site based on existing wireframes, so our team worked on a design that incorporated the planned features, but added to them using design and light Javascript. Most importantly, we had to provide a build that Georgetown could easily implement and modify, which imposed the challenge of a design that was visually striking but still flexible and maintainable.

The project had a pretty steep learning curve, so the first step was research: I got to visit the campus personally and interview faculty, staff, and (most importantly) students on what it’s like to be at GUQ, what they considered most valuable about the programs, and what they used the site for — both before and after they made the decision to attend.

There were some common threads in the feedback, namely that the existing site didn’t reflect the Georgetown connection or the excitement of the GUQ programs. The final design played with the Georgetown type/color combination but used large photos and motion to create an extra layer of excitement and delight. We were even able to build a custom Flickr gallery and an autocomplete option for the search — both without imposing extra work on the back-end team at Georgetown.

He’s a shot of the final homepage:

Redesigned Homepage

Read more about Georgetown’s programs in Qatar, Qatar, or Education City to learn about the bigger picture.

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