Colorado State University

Higher Education Client Charts a Course Toward Better Navigation


Semester at Sea — provider of the ultimate global study abroad experience — had a labyrinthine website that made it difficult for students and their families to find crucial information about the program. By enhancing the site’s flexibility and scalability, establishing more straightforward navigation, and freshening up the branding, we helped Semester at Sea provide site visitors with a much smoother browsing experience.


Offering a one-of-a-kind academic experience aboard a floating college, Semester at Sea has long been a staple on the study abroad circuit. However, with sustained growth came more content, resulting in a sprawling site that attempted to service multiple audiences at once with a single navigation schema. Users would be erroneously ferried to pages with no awareness of how or why they ended up there, due in large part to poorly-executed sub-navigation. Additionally, it was difficult to find answers to arguably the most pressing questions students and their families had — “How much does the program cost?” “How will this benefit my degree?” “Will it be worth it?”


To help declutter the site navigation and turn baffled visitors into excited leads, Vital performed a large-scale content audit, then segmented SAS’ audiences into a tailored persona nav (admitted students, Lifelong Learners, parents, etc.) and optimized the main navigation for their primary audience (students). We then turned our focus to the Voyages program pages, building mini-sites and funnels for each distinct, semester-long experience. Every program page is now built around visitors’ biggest questions — what they’ll study, where they’ll go, how to apply, how to pay, etc.

Speaking of cost…

We helped clear up past confusion by simplifying the tuition pages and bringing scholarship and financial aid information into the main navigation. Through revamped and optimized site copy, we also highlighted the academic aspect of each voyage, touting the excellent faculty, rigorous curriculum, and immersive field programs that comprise SAS’ unique “global comparative education.”


High-quality Content.

Fortunately, Semester at Sea had a massive catalog of high-quality content to leverage, including stunning destination photographs, fascinating first-hand blog posts, and compelling videos from on board the ship, featuring real students and faculty. We incorporated existing content throughout the new site and aligned it with the applicable audiences, creating a sort of curated journey for each unique site visitor.
Finally, we consulted on SAS’ logo refresh, providing design input and feedback throughout the creative process.

The new site is built in a block editor with updated branding, a re-organized meganav, and Salesforce integration that enables page updates from a single platform instead of multiple. The Semester at Sea team can easily make changes without having to call in backup. Now, when potential voyagers and their families are researching their options, they can quickly find answers to their questions concerning academics, cost, and itineraries. The improved navigation enables site visitors to circumvent any confusion and instead focus on the excitement of adventure.

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