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MICA | Happy Cog - Web Strategy, Design & Development


Home page styles changing based on featured artwork

Maryland Institute College of Art

As one of the top art and design schools in the world, Maryland Institute College of Art demanded bold thinking and exceptional execution in the redesign of its website.

After studying the campus, the artists it empowers, and the recent rebranding by Pentagram, Happy Cog designed a site that presented the most powerful evidence of MICA’s impact: the artwork of its students.

Three flavors of the site, driven entirely by the artwork you find.

Front and center in the home page, MICA’s student artwork isn’t merely the most important element in the visual space; it actually works to define the site experience, by shifting the color palette as a visitor browses from one work to the next.

Behind the scenes

Happy Cog created a fully-fledged CSS/XHTML framework specific to the new design, allowing the MICA web team to create layouts in whichever visual presentation best suits the content. The framework also makes it easy to change content order in code without altering visual display—a huge bonus in search engine optimization.

Building on that foundation of standards-based, accessible markup and style, Happy Cog took progressive enhancement to a new level. Combining CSS, JavaScript, and Flash, the resulting platform allows MICA to preserve the elegance and transparency—both figuratively and literally—of the design without spending tremendous amounts of time customizing code or working in Photoshop to make changes.

Happy Cog worked closely with its partners in the project, Adaptive Path (user research and IA) and Ingeniux (back-end development).


User research & information architecture (with Adaptive Path), graphic design, user interface design, CSS/XHTML template development, JavaScript development, Flash development.


Since each department at MICA is unique, each has an individual landing page to feature its students, current events, curriculum, faculty, artwork, etc.

MICA's calendar page features upcoming exhibitions, lectures, and the school's academic calendar.

For current and prospective students to see what MICA artists produce, this page allows for browsing art by department, viewing upcoming exhibitions, and uploading your own work.

More work