IBM SkillsBuild

Brand Refresh and Site overhaul


SkillsBuild, an IBM digital learning platform for the workforce, kickstarts careers for job seekers and provides educators with tailored coursework. Over the course of the timeline, this project evolved into a larger rework of the overall navigation to help improve user way-finding.

  • Branding
  • Site map
  • UX/UI


Initially, the client wanted to add functionality for two distinct  SkillsBuild audience categories (college students, college educators) to the existing ecosystem (job seekers, highschool students, organizations, educators).

After some initial conversations around what problems users were facing, it was clear the project had become more than the initial task of adding two extra user types. The broad spectrum of the target audience created two problems: simple self identification and a branding aesthetic which would work for every user. It very quickly evolved into an information architecture overhaul and branding refresh, with a unified goal of improving overall user wayfinding.

Another key challenge we faced was aligning the branding with each age group. Given the vast age range of high school students to adult learners, there was a risk of sticking to a particular aesthetic which excluded a particular group.


  1. Simplify the way-finding experience

    Presenting the user with different types of ways to experience SkillsBuild (learner, educator etc.) followed by the user types within these levels (high schooler, college etc.) would enable the user to make an informed decision.
  2. Align visual direction to each segment separately

    Rather than attempting to account for every user type at once with the branding aesthetic, it made sense to separate the branding styles for each user type.


Through two rounds of moderated A/B tests, it was clear users were struggling with self identifying what type of user they were. For instance a job seeker who was also a high school student could only select one of these two identity categories. Reworking the overall user experience of the navigation meant that new landing pages would be required to support the new flow – which would aid in scaling Skillsbuild’s audience. 

The AP team was able to provide solid rationale behind our recommendations, like users preferring drip-fed options when it came to self identifying. For example, it was easier to start with “Learners” and selecting “College” or “High school” versus having all these options available at the same time.

Working within the IBM design system made it a breeze to develop. We were able to simplify the landing experience for users through content and clear UI design, while still adding college students and educators to the ecosystem.

The team clearly identified each user group and plotted them on a spectrum to roughly guide the overall aesthetic.

The team did some thinking around how the brand should shift and change depending on what audience was being considered. For instance, bright and fun branding would be the preference to engage high school students but this might be too youthful for adult learners, who might tend to resonate with a more professional aesthetic

The AP team conducted two rounds of A/B testing which helped to verify our recommendations. We benchmarked our proposed layout and new pages against the existing experience to validate the alternative versions.


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  • 16 000+ qualified leads
  • 165 000 learners reached
  • 24% increase in completed modules