Breaking New Ground: University Terrace, Stanford

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WebEnertia works in Silicon Valley with some of the world’s most innovative brands, where we challenge conventions and try different ways of doing things. It’s that approach that made us more appealing than more traditional competitors for the contract to build a housing website that lies near the heart of Stanford University’s mission.

The world-class college’s reputation for excellence rests on its ability to attract some of the most sought-after academics in the world. But in recent years, Stanford found itself losing too many prized faculty and staff recruits stunned by cost of housing in the Palo Alto area. The current median price for a home in the Stanford ZIP code, according to Zillow: a staggering $2.8 million.

To remain competitive with its peers, Stanford created a development plan, known as University Terrace. By building hundreds of houses and condos on Stanford-owned land, the university would be able to offer prospective faculty and staff members homes at prices that would make it a lot harder to pass up.

Brand identity and UX design

Working closely with the Stanford faculty and staff housing division, we identified a unique brand identity for the project. One part of that was incorporating the very meaning of the word “terrace” into the design — with a steplike motif throughout.

 

The identity design was extended to several items, including collateral, signage and show-room graphics.

“From a design aspect,” recalled lead designer Valerie Redrico, “I looked forward to creating an interface to showcase the beautiful interior and exterior renders provided to us.”

“The housing websites we reviewed during the research process lacked visual appeal and user friendliness, so we set about making ours more enticing and easier to use for would-be home buyers visiting the University Terrace site.”

One of the challenges for our design and development teams was the creation of an interactive map that would give users a real sense of what living at University Terrace would be like. The map not only gave the users several perspectives and angles of the community itself, it pinpointed shopping areas, transportation stops, and other points of interest in the surrounding Palo Alto area.

Another key feature of the user experience was the creation of a detailed, easy-to-navigate exploration of the floor plan created for each proposed unit. We made it so users could easily filter through buildings, building floors, the number of bedrooms.

“Being able to achieve all this filtering in one place saves the user time,” Redrico said.

When users click on a particular floor plan, they zoom in on detailed renderings of the interior and exterior. Buying a home is a daunting process, so it was critical for us to make the evaluation pages super friendly. Especially when they would be considering buying homes sight unseen because not a single unit had been built at the time.

Bringing the project home

Once we landed the job, it was all hands on deck. WebEnertia’s part of the project kicked off in May 2015 and completed in April 2016. The site was built on Drupal content management platform. Nearly the entire WebEnertia team had a hand in the project at one time or another.

In the end, the work was a big success, both for Stanford and for us. We expanded WebEnertia’s capabilities through the experience — and made our prestigious customer happy.

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