Chronicle of Higher Education


A new product for a new era. As the Chronicle of Higher Education neared its 50th birthday, the leading source of academic news developed a vision to expand beyond its core journalism products. The Chronicle's in-house innovation team partnered with Viget to bring this vision to market as Vitae, an online career hub for higher-ed professionals. Our lean, user-centered product approach resulted in a burgeoning community of more than 800,000 people across 4,000 colleges and universities — providing an innovative foundation for the Chronicle's next half-century.

  • Challenge

    Solve higher-ed professionals' biggest problem — growing their academic careers — and launch a new product line for the Chronicle.

  • Solution

    Build an online community that reflects academia's nuances, and instill a lean product culture of prototyping, validating, and shipping.

  • Results

    A custom web application that lets users showcase their work, connect with colleagues, manage their job searches, and succeed in higher ed.

How we did it.

  • A Lean Approach

    Rather than tackling Vitae's roadmap all at once, we planned a phased implementation to quickly design and iterate on key features, gain traction, and revise based on market response.

  • User-Centered Design

    We based Vitae's UX on a thorough understanding of academic culture. Profile pages highlight details such as publications, courses, and grants, and social aspects reflect academia's unique professional culture.

  • Complex Application Development

    Ruby on Rails provided a flexible foundation for solving complex engineering challenges. We built an authentication system that works with Vitae and the Chronicle's existing news site, and integrated with 3rd-party services including a CV parser and a job application service.

  • Go-to-Market Strategy

    We worked closely with the Chronicle's marketing team to plan Vitae's introduction and rollout. We created a landing page to generate interest, and helped the email marketing plan’s success through extensive testing and tweaks.

  • The custom Rails approach instilled version control, automated testing, and sound release management as a central part of the Chronicle's product development strategy.

    Hotfix or Not? Managing a Successful Release Process
    Amanda Ruehlen, Senior Project Manager
  • We made it efficient to enter a career's worth of academic profile information. With the help of backbone.js, a JavaScript library, users can edit any section of their profile without reloading any pages.

    Backbone.js on Vitae
    Ryan Foster, Developer
  • Users needed a seamless way to edit and maintain their academic data. For users with more robust data, we created a custom editing view known as the Bulk Editor.

    Write You a Parser for Fun and Win
    David Eisinger, Development Director