University of Illinois Gies College of Business

Curating a progressive digital experience for one of the world’s most dynamic online business schools.

Website homepage for Gies College of Business.
Gies College of Business logo.

Gies College of Business is committed to helping students connect the dots between their education and a purposeful future, allowing them to invent new ways to make a difference in the world.




E-mail Marketing

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Search Engine Optimization
Web Design

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Gies College of Business came to 829 with a goal to consolidate all Gies Online domains into one overarching hub that would serve as a catalog of all online programming. This would help the organization secure its leadership in the space through seamless UX, unified branding, and consistent messaging.


As a critical component of Gies College of Business’ strategic priorities including access, inclusion, and innovation, the Gies Online experience needed a complete overhaul. In order to achieve the desired result, 829 reimagined Gies Online’s digital ecosystem and established a process to pull all Gies Online domains together under one roof.


Gies Online’s new site boldly communicates the organization’s unique flexible product offering while ensuring users can easily digest, filter through, and ask questions about the offering, as well as take the various necessary next steps towards enrolling.

Following the initial roadmap of keyword research as well as copy, technical, and search engine tag optimizations, 829 saw a 20% increase on average in year-over-year organic visitation. In addition, 829 found that each of our conversion metrics multiplied for college course applications. Both 829 and Gies developed a pattern of decision-making based on actionable reporting from Google Data Studio and SEMrush. This allowed 829 to work on additional optimizations justified by opportunities to win in the search engine results pages.


Gies Online’s digital ecosystem comprised six different web properties belonging to the University of Illinois, as well as 3rd-party domains powered by Thinkific, SamCart, and Coursera. Programs and courses were spread between all of these properties as well as through downloadable PDFs. In order to consolidate the content into one overarching hub, 829 first needed to conduct an in-depth audit of all existing content to understand what assets Gies already had.

As part of this discovery phase, 829 conducted multiple in-depth interviews with stakeholders ranging from marketing managers, to educational content professionals, to project coordinators, to developers.

As an educational institute with so many different learning tracks, it was also very important to understand the various audiences to which each track was designed. To learn more about our audience, 829 conducted in-depth interviews with Gies’ marketing and sales teams as well as a deep dive into the various Gies Google Analytics dashboards. The result? Our three personas:

  • Prospective degree students
  • Prospective non-degree students
  • Current students
Gies color pallet.
Gies typography light on dark.
Gies typography dark on light.


Reoccurring feedback included users:

  • Being overwhelmed by the many different learning tracks and needing an option to compare and explore all offerings in one place.
  • Not understanding the “stackable” concept of how courses can build on each other.
  • Wanting to more clearly get a taste for the subjects offered, vs. just the format in which they’re offered.
  • Not immediately understanding the connection between Gies Online & University of Illinois.
  • Not easily finding information on cost, duration and learning expectations.

The team conducted usability testing whereby we analyzed the results and made strategic updates based on the findings. 829 focused our efforts on high-profile pages that would work towards accomplishing the goals of the organization, and of course, the navigation. These pages included the homepage, degree pages, course catalog, Why Gies, and lead-generation forms.

Gies website pages.
Gies website.
Gies website.
Page from the Gies website.
Elements from the Gies website.
Gies website on mobile.

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