Kayla Pierson

Web Designer & User Experience Engineer

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Hi, I’m Kayla.

First and foremost, I am a designer, but I’m also a developer, photographer, dog lover, analytical thinker, and creative problem solver.

For the past ten years, I've spent my time as a creative professional as well as a student at the University of Montana. I strive to find that perfect balance between form and function, beauty and simplicity, creativity and code. Web technology and it's ever evolving nature has become my medium of choice. I firmly believe that design is so much more than colors and buttons; it's about making products better, enriching people's lives and building a better future.

With my master’s thesis completed, I look forward to designing my own future.

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Let me show you some of my work.

Admissions, 2018


The UM’s admissions pages needed a modern update, with a focus on intuitive design for maximum engagement and clarity, showcasing visually stunning photography to further emphasize the messaging of what Missoula and the University have to offer. Three top content areas were identified: visiting campus, learning about tuition costs and financial aid opportunities, and simplifying the messaging around what is required to submit an application. With these needs in mind, I revamped the entire experience to cater to potential new students and help them on their quest to explore academic options as well as create a sense of belonging and a desire to "go there".


After researching other university admissions pages and identifying common/best practices, I knew that the keystone of the design would be a silent video showcasing the beauty of Missoula and surrounding areas and the unique opportunities available for students here. I embraced Google’s Material Design as a standard to build an updated aesthetic for the four landing pages, and disregarded the existing restrictions of the primary University template. These pages would be built from scratch outside of the Cascade CMS, and represent an opportunity for creative freedom. From this design, the remaining pages that make up the website would continue to exist in the Ponderosa Template in Cascade, but would receive a few new styles to echo the design of the new admissions pages.

See it in action.

Screenshot of the Admisions home page redesign proposal
Screenshot of the Admisions home page redesign proposal

UMontana Mobile App, 2016

In the summer of 2016, the University of Montana partnered with Ex Libris CampusM to launch a mobile platform for smartphones and tablets, as well as desktops (accessible via a web portal). I was responsible for creating a unified aesthetic for the app to accommodate five user profiles including students, employees, campus visitors, prospective students, and alumni, each with different functionalities.

Knowing this project would extend far into the future, I created a guideline flexible enough to expand as new features were added over time while maintaining a clear, consistent look for the app as a whole. Additionally, I created a number of mockups for use in promotional materials.

The app was awarded Educational Digital Marketing Awards' Gold Award for Mobile Media Content for 2016.

See it in action.

Study Pages, 2015


As part of the UM homepage redesign, I created a new University marketing tool specifically designed for prospective students called the “Study Pages”. This was an ambitious project which created a new landing page for each for the subjects available for study at UM; about 135 in total.


These pages were designed to promote the academics at the University of Montana and help visitors learn more about offerings as well as drive traffic to the specific academic units' websites. I delved into Google’s Material Design and adopted it as the new aesthetic for the face of the University. The Study Pages themselves were designed to be long, scrolling, infographic-style pages featuring a prominent photo, metrics about the field of study (such as class size or average salary), key words or options within the field, and a highlight to hit home why a prospective student would want to study this subject at UM. Content for the pages was sourced from the campus community and continues to be curated annually.

See it in action.

Screenshot a Theatre study page
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I've won some cool awards lately.

Customer MVP, 2017

I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at Hannon Hill's national Cascade User Conference each year since 2015, and this conference is an event I look forward to every year. In October 2017, I was honored to receive the coveted Customer MVP Cassie Award which is awarded through votes from conference attendees. This award is given to a member of the Cascade community who regularly assists other Hannon Hill clients in their implementation of the Cascade software, and I am so pleased and grateful to know my efforts have helped advance the higher education web presence across the country.

Read UM's Press Release

shameless selfie after winning the MVP award

Inclusivity Award, 2017

In October, I was one of six recipients chosen nationally to receive funding to attend Internet2’s 2017 Technology Exchange meeting in San Francisco. The I2 Expo was a great opportunity for me personally and professionally, and I spent the week fully immersed in topics and technology well beyond my role as a web designer. Of the sessions I attended, I thoroughly enjoyed the Virtual Reality presentation and demonstrations, the “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap” film screening, and the awardees lunch discussions. I was also particularly proud of myself for solving the Cryptography Puzzle, because few people succeeded in decoding the answer.

This was my first trip to San Francisco, and I loved exploring nearby attractions with fellow awardees especially Pier 39 and Golden Gate Bridge.

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I have other interests too.

Occasionally I have free time, and it mostly consists of cooking, spending time with my dog, and taking photos of the food or the dog.

aspiring chef whips up steak and risotto
staring contest with the most beautiful dog in the world
sunlight through a single tulip

Additionally, I play golf, grew up fly-fishing, love football, and need music to function. I also enjoy puzzles, board and video games, and spending time with friends.

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Want to know more?

Here's my resume. Feel free to get in touch.