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Yale University, School of Management

Reaching a digitally-savvy audience

When Dean Edward Snyder took over in 2011, Yale School of Management (Yale SOM) ranked among the top 10 graduate business schools in the world. He had aspirations to put it in the top five within a decade. This raised everyone’s expectations — students, faculty and alumni alike. And it shined a bright light on the difficulty and frustration of navigating the loosely connected web services.

Simplify complexity

Yale SOM needed, above all, a strong application pipeline to attract elite students and executives. But, to pursue a healthy growth of top-tier candidates, Yale SOM also had to connect with its vast constituency of thought leaders, from consumers of conventional business publications to readers of academic literature. In addition, alumni were routinely forgetting their passwords, which suppressed engagement and other problems highly specific to that group. What’s more, Yale SOM’s progressive audience was rapidly adopting new technologies — reflected in a 97% annual increase in mobile traffic. Changes had to be made to stay relevant.

Yale SOM Website Before
Yale SOM Alumni Website Before

Before. A disconnected network of systems and designs

Connecting the dots

Design systems, a documented and repeatable collection of brand standards and components, are increasingly becoming the standard for managing solutions at scale. With brands reaching out over multiple channels and platforms, a centralized design language is critical to providing consistency and efficiency


Exfoliation design system

Exfoliation design on Yale SOM homepage

Rooted in the brand work from Pentagram for Yale SOM, we developed the Exfoliation design system: a comprehensive foundation of traditional design and code patterns with a concentration on a clean, minimalist aesthetic and generous use of white space. 

SOM at a glance. A card system to distill the overwhelming volume of analysis, news, social media, and events into consumable, contemporary snapshots.

Exfoliation design system

Yale SOM website MBA program
Yale SOM website faculty page on iPhone
Yale SOM International Center for Finance homepage on iPad

Exfoliation coming together. The design system provided consistency across the spectrum of stakeholders.

Reaching prospects

For Yale SOM’s flagship site, we focused on the application pipeline. Square360 extended the Exfoliation foundation with a clearly differentiated call to action and sophisticated, micro-applications that enhanced discoverability, accessibility, and presentation. Moreover, we developed a modular, marketing lander application (internally dubbed MML) that facilitates the funnel of potential candidates through a rapid deployment of sophisticated, ad-hoc lead-capture pages connected to keyword campaigns. 

Visual storytelling.  A media player to show rich, narrative content.

Predictive search

Predictive search. A search concierge to provide instant, predictive connection to common behavior flows. 

Numbers Don't Lie

The new website got 6 million page views last year and an 83.5% increase of traffic to the online application — +113.5% desktop, +65.4% mobile.

83.5% increase in traffic to online application
29% increase in applications submitted through round one 2016

Supporting students

From a confusing labyrinth of systems, Square360 transformed the portal into a unified, productivity tool that offered students a platform for real-time calendar subscriptions, management of internal announcements, collaboration in career discussion groups by topic and focus, and instant directory searching.

Faculty directory and Courses

Yale SOM faculty directory on iPad
Yale SOM course directory

Alumni engagement

To cultivate engagement among the alumni community, Square360 and Yale SOM rebuilt the alumni portal from the ground up. A remodeled homepage tile system for an alumni-centric presentation of news and analysis also gave the highest visibility to the most popular engagement tasks (e.g., searching for classmates and reunions). We extended single sign-on integrations with popular social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) to simplify the convenience of maintaining contemporary profile information. And, as our coup de grâce, we revolutionized the alumni search to be more accessible and useful.

Yale SOM Alumni website