User Experience Design for Non Profit Education Agency
LEARN is a non profit agency committed to providing educational resources to students in need. Through donations and grant funding, the agency runs a variety of programs aimed at preparing students for higher education.
Brief from the client:
"We are looking to develop a more streamlined website that quickly delivers our message and encourages people to read further about our work. We have met and discussed with our board our focus and intent for a new web presence to tell our story. Our board has identified four areas that we would like our new website to exude. They are 1) Clear Message Delivery 2) Easy Navigation 3) Concise and useful information and 4) Keeps you coming back as a resource."
I worked in collaboration with one other designer on this project, and we spent a combined total of about 60 hours on this pro bono project over 2 months.
Due to location logistics, it was difficult to access users for testing. I circumvented this by developing an online survey to distribute to current or potential users.
The agency had an established Wordpress-based website, and wanted to continue with the service. There were some challenges in migrating the content over to a new theme, which required custom coding.
- Comparative Analysis
- User Survey
- Content Audit
- Content Strategy & Information Architecture
- WordPress Site development
FINAL Site (www.learnla.org)
Competitors were researched to understand areas for improvement within LEARN's current site. I selected similar programs as well as specific sites called out by the client that they particularly liked the design of.
The analysis indicated the current design of the LEARN site was following similar patterns as competitors, but it needed an organizational overhaul. The original site did not have a clear informational hierarchy and the content strategy was lacking.
I designed a survey targeting users familiar with LEARN services or other similar programs. I tested my questions with potential participants before publishing the survey. The survey was distributed through social media channels and LEARN's communication network. The full survey can be found here.
The survey findings indicated users were interested in the service but needed more clear information about how the programs work. They were not able to identify clear steps to move forward with the program. Important details like funding sources, location constraints, and resource allocation were not easy to locate on the site.
Snapshot from survey
Common pain points are too much text that doesn't get straight to the point and an overly cluttered design.
As identified in the research phase of this project, organization and clear information hierarchy were key components to a successful redesign of the site. My working partner and I spent time diving into the site, conducting a content audit, and then systematically planning out where content should live on the redesigned site.
Key areas of improvement were removing redundant information and establishing a clear navigation structure.
The client already had a WordPress based website and wanted to stick with this platform. I found a new design template that would provide simplicity while also allowing me to build out pages with more content. I selected a theme with a design that the client was happy with and was able to inject custom HTML and CSS to further customize the theme.
The primary focus of the redesign was to create a more structured site based on the content strategy work while updating the UI to be more visually compelling. I updated the logo with colors that would stand out better against a dark background and sourced relevant, impactful imagery for the home page. Furthermore, I established a clear typographic hierarchy throughout the site and removed distracting logos and colors.
In the end, I was able to deliver a scalable site to the client that would allow them to manage and update the site while keeping with the improved UI and structure we provided.
There were two main challenges with this project:
1. Logistics: I didn't have as much access to current users as I would have liked. This forced me to lean on other tools, such as online survey and competitive analysis, to put myself in the mind of users.
2. WordPress confines: There are pros and cons to working with WordPress. On the pro side, it's great that the client is comfortable with the platform and can now continue to update and manage their site. The con is that this platform can be limiting if you don't have a developer on your team, which I did not. There were some challenges in figuring out how to best customize the theme to work for my client while improving the overall user experience, especially working within the confines of WordPress.
Working through challenges like these can be difficult, but they also force me to be more creative and dig deep to use the resources I have available. I appreciate the opportunity to work through a problem and come up with a solution that my client is happy with.