The George Lucas Educational Foundation provides resources for teachers who are passionate about education reform via its web site, Edutopia. I’ve been working closely with the Edutopia team for the last year, serving as User Experience Lead on a number of projects.
For this project, a focus group study (conducted by an outside agency) revealed that teachers primarily look for resources that are specific to their grade level. At the time, the site did not support finding resources by grade level. With this insight, we re-architected the site, updated the global navigation, and developed these grade level landing pages.
I was the User Experience Lead on this project, defining the overall architecture of the site, as well as the behavior and structure at the page-level. I facilitated discussions, guiding a very vocal and opinionated team through a number of complex and contentious decisions. Visual design was executed by Edutopia’s talented in-house designer, Maili Holiman.
Of course, our primary goal was to infuse grade levels throughout the site, but Edutopia also had very concrete goals in terms of metrics. Edutopia has a very effective SEO strategy that brings in plenty of new traffic, but they wanted to increase visitor loyalty, as measured by return visits. They also wanted to increase engagement, as measured by time spent on site and page views per visit.
In order to bring return visits, these pages had to be updated regularly. However, Edutopia’s editorial staff is already spread thin and could not devote a significant amount of time to maintaining these pages.
To my delight, I discovered that the Edutopia team responds very well to sketches. Early on in the process, I produced a number of sketches for the team, to provoke discussion and make decisions quickly. Sketches were iterated upon quickly based on feedback from the team. I waited to move to high-fidelity wireframes until it felt like the sketches were pretty solid.
We’ve received positive feedback from the Edutopia community about the new grade level landing pages. And using analytics, we were able to measure the effect of the grade levels pages’ on our metrics. We met our specific, measurable analytics goals, and we continue to refine the site experience based on feedback from our passionate community of users.