UCLA Experience

Introducing competitive college applicants to UCLA

My Role

UX research & design


Visual designers
Lead developer


Google Analytics


I collaborated with a team of creatives to design a microsite for UCLA Admission. Our goal was to increase the caliber of high school applicants to UCLA. We did this by targeting high-achieving students across the U.S. and positioning UCLA as a top-tier school. I worked in collaboration with a writer, two visual designers, and a front-end developer.


UCLA mailed brochures to over 100,000 competitive high school students each year. This method provided a single and expensive touchpoint. It also forced UCLA to compete with other top-tier schools in stacks of college brochures.

The Admission team needed a cost-effective way to engage with students more frequently. A monthly email campaign was already in play but engagement was low. They contained unfocused messaging and 6-10 links per to sites with variable content quality. Admission needed a microsite with a clear message and concise information about UCLA’s programs and offerings.


When this project kicked off, we had 2 months to design, write, and develop the site. We didn't have time to recruit research participants, so I interviewed 4 interns in our marketing department. I inquired about their college search experience, the resources they used, and information they sought when researching schools. I also consulted third-party sites like college search engines, forums, and counseling blogs to uncover more user needs.

I then moderated card sorts with these interns to group user needs into distinct topics. I also reviewed analytics from prior email campaigns to determine priority of topics in the navigation.

Context Matrix

Insights from research helped me to brainstorm general page structure. I worked with our writer to create a content matrix. We documented priority topics, factoids, statistics, and rankings for each page.


I created the sitemap to define 11 landing pages and the content modules included in each one. We focused on experiential topics like academics programs, student life, and campus. I touched on transactional topics like applying and financial aid but kept them minimal since the Admission site covered them in detail.


After finalizing information architecture, our team collaborated on layout and visual design. We discussed experiential and creative principles for the project. This helped create alignment between UX and visual design from the start. We agreed on the need to create landing pages that:

  • Engaged the attention of campaign-directed traffic
  • Prioritized visual content, kept copy minimal
  • Immersed people in the campus environment
  • Aligned with existing print marketing

To design on a tight production schedule, I focused our first work session on pattern reusability. We brainstormed a set of patterns and modules to reuse throughout the site. This helped us reduce design debt. It also clarified requirements early on in our process.


Once we agreed upon patterns, I sketched low-fidelity wireframes for each landing page. I used our content matrix to inform the flow of content. We broke from patterns in a few cases but mostly stayed within these constraints. I sketched the wires in 2 days and handed them off to our visual designers and writer.

Visual Design

Chris Towery and Suzannah Mathur created the visual designs for each landing page. Below is the homepage and one interior page. They sourced photos from shoots for recent Admission brochures.


In 3 years, we helped UCLA's Admission team increase freshman applications by 15% and lower the admit rate by 6 percentage points. This helped improve the caliber of new students, while still maintaining economic and ethnic diversity among admits. During this time, UCLA also rose in rankings to be the #1 Public University (U.S. News & World Report).

I wouldn't attribute these gains solely to our work. However, we increased UCLA's exposure by driving 50,000-70,000 high-achieving students to our site each year with solid email marketing statistics: 40% average open rate; 21% average click-through; 60% of visitors engaging in 2 or more pages per session.

Next Project

UCLA Bruin Day