Harvard University

An ecommerce site for Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The challenge.

Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) publishes a highly respected bi-annual magazine called Harvard Design Magazine. They approached Cite because their current website was using an outdated bespoke CMS, and transactional elements were not user-friendly. They needed a migration of content and a replatforming in WordPress/WooCommerce to bring it in line with other GSD digital platforms.

Improving the User Experience.

The existing site had partially implemented a design from Harvard Design Magazine’s creative partners Alexis Mark. We were tasked with implementing these visuals correctly and using our design team’s experience and knowledge to ensure careful consideration of the user experience and accessibility.

Our design team made subtle but effective tweaks, including:

  • Improving colour contrast ratios to conform to AA accessibility requirements.
  • Increasing spacing and focus area for mobile elements, such as menus and buttons.
  • Optimising the site’s UX to improve conversions.
  • Refining the search functionality to group results in a logical way, showing a list of physical magazine issues and online articles separately.
  • Introducing an article index so visitors could easily access online articles.

The build.

We delivered the site in WordPress and WooCommerce. Our development team was the first external agency to fully customise a website in the GSD’s ‘SiteBuilder,’ a bespoke multi-site installation of WordPress that the GSD uses to create its internal sites. The site is also the first ecommerce site within Site Builder. We worked closely with their web and IT teams to create our own ‘child theme,’ which was embedded into their SiteBuilder.

The site was delivered to AA accessibility standards and integrated with Harvard’s version of the payment gateway, TouchNet. Additionally, our team integrated WooCommerce with the magazine’s fulfilment centre’s API to ensure successful orders were transmitted for packing and fulfilment.

We worked closely with the magazine team to migrate content from the old site and platform to WordPress. We produced an extensive script to automate this process and were able to successfully migrate all written content, media library, and associated metadata. Our content team then performed a manual check on key content areas and made small tweaks to improve the layout and legibility of the written articles.


We’ll continue to work with the GSD over the coming months to evolve and enhance the site – with a focus on conversion rate optimisation and continuing to improve the user experience of both browsing content, and purchasing magazines.

As a result of our work with the Harvard Graduate School of Design we have also been commissioned to work with a second Harvard school.

Thanks for reading.

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