UC Berkeley Nanophotonics Lab

Rebranding a lab researching quantum computing materials


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Key Features


"How do we get more students to apply?"

Hendrik Utzat of UC Berkeley asked Chainlift to help redesign his lab group's website. The goal? Get the greatest talent available to apply.

The problem was low enrollment demand. Hendrik knew that he needed to stand out to inspire more graduate students to apply. So, we got to work differentiating his brand from his colleagues'. To do that, we needed to modernize his user experience.

Standing Out (In a Good Way)

We began with competitor research. Hendrik provided examples of what's considered "the norm" in his industry to help us compile a reference of what Hendrik wanted to avoid.


Anyone can see the difference between these two sites in the graphic above, but we needed objective criteria to measure our design's success against. Otherwise, we'd just be going by taste, and we need our designs grounded in fact.

To gather data, we performed a combination of surveys, informational interviews, and semiotic analysis using our "what NOT to do" examples as a reference point. The following graphic summarizes that process. Research revealed that the best path forward would be to differentiate Hendrik's lab as a progressive, encouraging environment that's as synonymous with future tech as quantum computing.

Highlighting Cultural Values through UX Design

To describe our process, let's take a look at how we designed this layout. We'll start with the unmarked version, and then in the two images that follow, we'll annotate how we made our design decisions. In short, we put Hendrik's brand in conversation with popular, easily-recalled examples of "high" tech companies. Light color schemes, evocative of science labs and the sleek minimalism that designers have capitalized on since Squarespace emerged and made it their hallmark.

Full Layouts

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