Bethel Online Academy Marketing Redesign
When I came onboard to Bethel Online Academy, there was an almost immediate need to rebuild the school’s aging website (below). While it had a lot of useful content, the look was past stale and students had a hard time simply discovering information they needed. We were often sending them direct links because they could not locate the pages they needed. I redesigned the website based on a template that was beginning to be used by district office for individual schools. I modified that theme to fit the more comprehensive needs of Bethel Online Academy including adding drop down menus, a course catalog, and several complex layers of visual information. I managed the project from start to finish, including collaborating with the IT department to get the website into our Content Management System, Expression Engine.
But the work did not end with the website. All kinds of forms and brochures existed that did not match each other or give a consistent sense of branding for the school. This grew the need for a complete online academy marketing redesign. Summer school brochures like the one below were quickly phased out for a consistent and clean look and feel.
This was perhaps my first big design project out of school, and there were many lessons learned in the process. As you can see from the samples, I did not follow best practices in regards to colors. Instead of using two colors and an accent, I had a plethora of colors that I somehow seemed to pull off, regardless. It got to my end goal, which was to present a warm, welcoming presence to students and parents, but as I look back, it is one of the most colorful designs I’ve ever made.
I also learned a lot from this project about the usability of information consumption. What began as a complex, but well thought out structure, ended up being overwhelming and confusing for many students. We later redesigned the information architecture of the site in order to simplify the navigation and help students more easily discover what they needed.
Additionally, I learned a valuable lesson about less is more. We had quickly developed the most comprehensive school website in the district, so much so that the Director of Secondary Assessment used our site as a resource. However, as with all things, as the state assessment requirements began to rapidly change, it became very difficult to keep up with ever-changing resources. During our information architecture redesign, we also did a lot of work to link to already existing resources for content that was not specific to our school.
I was glad, on the other hand, that I was wise enough to keep as close to the district template as possible. It later saved us a costly and time-consuming complete redesign the district began to do standardization work among all the school website.