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Columbia University Data Science Institute

Designing the Future of Data for Good

As data science has grown in scale and sophistication, academic institutions have faced an increased challenge to cultivate future generations of interdisciplinary experts to advance the field. Seeing data science collaboration as central to its strategy, Columbia University launched its university-wide Data Science Institute in 2012. With a mission of advancing “Data for Good,” Columbia DSI offers a unique curriculum intersecting the university’s schools, centers, and programs. However, after almost a decade of growth, the Data Science Institute’s website design had fallen far behind its reputation for innovation, influence, and impact. Seeking new perspective, Columbia asked Constructive to design their new home.

What We Did

1
Research & Strategy

A Strategy That Connects the Interdisciplinary Dots.

Like many old, content-heavy websites, the Data Science Institute at Columbia University’s website had become cluttered, confusing, and unwieldy to manage. It also failed to successfully position the Institute and demonstrate how it touches virtually every academic discipline across the University. To tell this story, we started with research to understand how DSI collaborates across Columbia University and then defined the interests and aspirations of the Institute’s diverse audience of students, industry leaders, research experts, and the media. With clarity on Columbia University Data Science Institute’s mission and value, we developed a digital strategy that connects audiences with the countless opportunities that DSI creates for innovation and cross-disciplinary social impact.

Content Strategy & UX Design

Designing a Constellation of Experiences to Explore Data Science.

Like the work of the Data Science Institute, its website’s foundation is multi-faceted. Through a collaborative content strategy and UX design process, we defined a structure and flow that leads with DSI’s narrative and then provides interconnected pathways for audiences to explore. Primers introduce the Institute, its mission, and the faculty, students, and alumni that advance it. High-level purpose is established with focus areas that connect data science to global issues like climate, health care, and social justice. And the Data Science Institute’s website empowers audiences to explore everything from academic programs and affiliated schools and programs to faculty, news, events, and more. The result sets the stage, tells a story, and then invites audiences in to engage more deeply.

Website Design

Designing a Brand That Unites Academic Tradition & Scientific Innovation.

The Data Science Institute is unique at Columbia. No institute offers a curriculum more interconnected across the university, making it deeply rooted in Columbia’s academic brand. At the same time, it is highly specialized and operates at the forefront of innovation. To honor this duality, we designed a brand experience that lives comfortably within Columbia University’s classic brand guidelines while adding new typography, treatments, and animation that connect to the forward-facing ideas and opportunities that data science represents. The result is design that resonates with audiences committed to data science’s ability to create a better world while placing Columbia University’s storied brand at the forefront of this new frontier.

The Data Science Institute at Columbia University’s website design blends tradition and innovation to place a historic academic brand at the forefront of the future of “Data for Good.”

Issues & Institutions

Facilitating Breakthrough Discoveries to Address Society's Urgent Problems.

The rise of data science has made advances on a myriad of issues that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. To clearly connect audiences to what’s possible and why it matters, we designed the Data Science Institute at Columbia University’s website to feature the focus areas, research centers, and working groups that are connected to its curriculum. And a system of streamlined illustrations and standalone pages make it easy for scholars, students, and industry partners to understand how Columbia University’s DSI empowers them to create social value from vast reservoirs of data generated in the issues they care about most.

Data Visualization & Directories

Connecting a Network of Schools, Centers, Programs & Scholars.

The opportunities and potential at Columbia University’s Data Science Institute are so vast and interconnected that they require a visual shorthand to truly appreciate. To both bring them to life and make it easy for people to explore everything that DSI has to offer, we transformed the Institute’s own reservoir of data—designing an interactive visualization that both embodies their mission and empowers people explore a constellation of schools, programs, initiatives, and faculty. And for audiences who prefer more traditional ways to navigate information, a Columbia University Data Science Institute directory aggregates, organizes, and presents hundreds of profiles of DSI faculty working across the university.

The Data Science Institute is a vast constellation, connecting 17 Columbia University schools, institutes, and colleges, more than 370 affiliated faculty, and over 200 student research projects.

Academic Programs

Engaging Prospective Students with a Diversity of Academic Opportunities.

While the Data Science Institute’s mission is rooted in issues and focused on Data for Good, making this future possible requires cultivating future generations of data scientists who will realize the vast potential of this work. We designed a site that drives interest and applications from prospective students with a deep focus on the specialized academic programs, student services, and other opportunities that encapsulate the Columbia University Data Science Institute Experience. Degree overviews, course inventories, student capstone projects are prominently featured, with connections to Columbia University’s online application system that make it easy for aspiring data scientists to take the next step.

News & Events

Sharing a Wealth of Stories, Insights, News & Events.

Given how vast and interconnected The Data Science Institute at Columbia University is, it generates a continuous stream of activity and opportunities to engage. To bring this energy to the forefront, stories, news, and events are elevated and dynamically delivered throughout the site experience based on the issues and institutions to which they’re connected. A News & Insights section then organizes all of this activity in a centralized space to make it easy for audiences to appreciate the magnitude of work being done by everyone who contributes to advancing The Data Science Institute at Columbia University’s mission of Data for Good.

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