The front page was sketched, and built many times over the course of the project. We had about half a dozen versions of the front page. Each time we built a subdomain I kept refining the design and tightening things up. We gathered feedback before and after each launch. All the while constantly refining.
A sketch of the details page structure. We ended up doing everything all the time. We built a few subdomains and then rebuilt 9 of them all together. Then we built the main site.
Early Photoshop sketch for location on front page.
Early idea for student/faculty quotes section.
Layout for Employees home page (we did something similar for Current Students and Community).
What I learned
Lots of folks tend to focus on the front page. It makes sense because it gives the first impression. But the structure of the entire system is planned for ease of use. My approach was to go with the flow and I was confident the front page would be the best it could be if it organically came from the underlying work and iterations of the whole platform.