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Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA)

"AKGold Internet helped give CEA the visual interface that aligns our website with our core business functions and supports our business process each step of the way. From our online application, to the student portal to the website, all of which are intuitive, vibrant and clear, Andrew worked hand in hand with our organization to understand our business and position CEA right at the top in the Web arena for study abroad programs. Our old website made me cringe and our new one is a true source of pride for CEA. In addition to working flexibly with our schedule, AKGold completed the project on time and in budget."
Brian J. Boubek
Executive Director
Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA)

View the CEA testimonial (PDF)

Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA) provides study abroad programs for US college students. CEA's mission is clear: Create and facilitate opportunities for personal growth and global understanding through quality international education and cultural experiences. CEA's commitment to this mission has resulted in CEA's explosive growth.

In 2003, CEA made the Inc. 500 ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the country. Cultural Experiences Abroad was listed as the 67th fastest growing company. In 2004, CEA made the Inc. 500 for the second year in a row. While CEA was doing many things right, the CEA website was clearly the weak link in the chain and it was not in line with CEA's core value of Service First.

Simon Ng joined the CEA team as the Senior Marketing Manager. Simon and Andrew had worked together at Bank of America during the redesign of Simon knew that AKGold Internet was perfect for this challenge of taking CEA to the top in the Web arena.

AKGold Accomplishments:

Clearly Define Goals & Accomplish Them

The core goals for the CEA website redesign were:

  1. Redesign the interface to to make it highly engaging, professional, consistent, and extremely intuitive to increase site traffic and streamline browsing.
  2. Increase conversion of qualified leads.
  3. Create a student website to facilitate retention effort and to alleviate bottlenecks with enrollment team.
  4. Develop a site optimized for natural search.

Work Hand in Hand with CEA Team

The CEA team for the project were Simon Ng and his team: Joe Weber (Graphic Designer), Kelly Martinez (Marketing Coordinator), and Erin Enriquez (Marketing Coordinator). The key technical pointman was Alberto Prieto is the Application Development Manager. The CEA website redesign Advisory Team consisted of Brian Boubek (CEA and Founder), Caroline Walsh (Director of Programs), and Colleen Miller (Student Enrollment Manager). Andrew worked with the whole CEA organization to understand CEA's needs and work with the CEA team to position CEA at the top.

The three core spheres for accomplishing the project were the Information Architecture, the Visual Design and the Technical Implementation.

Nail Down the Information Architecture

This phase consisted of defining the goals for the CEA redesign, characterizing the audience, pinpointing the key areas for supporting the sales process, analyzing the competition, defining applicable web technology, and creating a series of specialized flow charts and key page prototypes.

Create Exciting & Effective Visual Design

The Visual Design phase consisted of a complete design analysis, exploration of design angles and navigational layouts, distilling these into a single thematic focus, followed by completion of design elements and then the preparation of the html templates.

Work Closely with CEA Technology Team

AKGold worked hand in hand with CEA's inhouse technology team. By having constant communication and having all asset deliverables clearly organized in the CEA project extranet, CEA was able to easily implement all AKGold deliverables. This clear and constant communication enabled the project to progress smoothly each step of the way.

Thanks to AKGold's talent, process, focus, vision and experience, CEA redeployed its new site right on time. The results of AKGold's efforts were: increased interest in CEA's programs, increased applications, increased enrollment, and the capability for CEA to manage the Enrollment and Post-Enrollment process online. This created a lot of excitement at CEA and around the world.

AKGold Asset Deliverables:

Vision. Experience. Results.
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