University of Maryland School of Law

Award-Winning Site for a National Thought Leader in Community Law

University of Maryland School of Law screenshot

TBG & University of Maryland School of Law

The University of Maryland Frances King Carey School of Law (UM Carey Law) is a national thought leader in community law, so it was exciting for TBG (The Berndt Group) to partner with them on a rapid project to restructure and reface the existing law school site.

UM Carey Law is unique among U.S. law schools in that it requires first year, full-time students to provide legal services to people who have low income or otherwise lack access to justice. This requirement isn’t just a “feel good” social justice issue; it’s a prerequisite to graduation, resulting in over 140,000 hours of free legal service every year.

For many sites, audience segmentation of content sometimes actually thwarts users from doing what they want, but for the UM Carey Law site, it was the right approach. The goals of the institution are myriad:

  • recruit new students;
  • build coalitions with other entities and with lawyers;
  • support existing students; and
  • connect with the greater community in Baltimore.

TBG developed a new look-and-feel for the UM Carey Law site, and developed a content strategy and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The resulting site was a huge step forward for the school as it continues to pursue its public service mission while educating future attorneys, and TBG is proud to have worked with such an outstanding organization. A new version of the site is currently in the works, and we are thrilled to be partnering with UM Carey Law on that project as well.

Content Strategy

Content Strategy

One of the key challenges of the project involved how to structure content so it’s more readable and accessible, no matter who is reading it. Additionally, TBG needed to consider how to get site visitors to all of the content they need, even if they don’t know what they need. TBG better defined the various audiences the site is intended for and segmented content according to those audiences. We also organized content by task rather than by audience name, directly addressing users who arrive at the site with a particular task in mind, such as applying. The key: ensuring each of these sections contained all relevant content so the user didn’t have to go searching elsewhere on the site. The new site offered multiple entryways for UM Carey Law’s multiple audiences from the homepage as well as from interior pages—critical for users who land on interior pages directly from external search engines. Users can navigate to and through all content on their desired subject whether they started with an audience label, such as “Prospective Students,” or whether they started with a task, such as “Apply.” The result is a much more usable, useful site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Another challenge TBG tackled was improving UM Carey Law’s search rankings. Effective SEO isn’t about tricks. The time-tested, best method of improving search engine rankings is to have excellent, useful, relevant content and to structure it semantically—using all of the hierarchical HTML tags that signal to search engines the page has a heading, subheads, paragraphs, and so on. UM Carey Law already had outstanding content. TBG proposed writing and re-writing UM Carey Law content to be better structured. As a result, UM Carey Law has the number one search ranking on Google for its desired keywords. It doesn’t get any better than that!

New Look-&-Feel

New Look-&-Feel

UM Carey Law engaged TBG to rapidly develop a new design that extended the offline brand with new photography and new styles to support the new branding. TBG used high-end photography of real students and professors in real situations and avoided even the appearance of stock photography. The revamped UM Carey Law branding is supported with complementary styling throughout the site, including a redesigned color palette and titling styles that work together to draw attention to content, especially to important calls to action. Photography of real students and faculty working telegraphs to the user the real achievements of UM Carey Law.