Sep 27 2018

Website Case Study: Portland vocational school

We recently worked with a known leader in vocational training here in Portland, Oregon, and you’ll find many of their graduates building thriving careers here in town and beyond. In 2017, however, they decided to revamp their online experience, to better connect their audience with the details they don’t already know about their diverse programs.

We partnered with them and brought our skills in website design, custom web development for WordPress, and content strategy to create a website that entices new students, and connects current students and alumni with the information they need.

The Goal: Give Control Back to The User

When our client first contacted us, their previous website was failing them in a number of ways:

  • Prospective students couldn’t find what they needed–the information was often there, but buried beneath a confusing website structure. This led to frequent phone calls about basic questions, wasting both new students’ and and their staffers’ precious time.
  • The visual design was inconsistent with their established brand standards and print materials. There were bright, distracting colors and “quirky” icons that just didn’t make sense with their grounded, calm, and welcoming culture.
  • They felt a lack of control over their content. Their previous website was so difficult to update that they didn’t feel empowered to do so. This led to inconsistent updates, and information that was misleading or outdated.

Our goal was clear: dig down into the complex muck, zero in on the most important needs of both the school and its audience, and refine it into a design that more honestly communicates what it’s like to attend or receive their services.

The Process: Getting To Know You

Our new website design gives prospective students a closer look at what student life is like the school.

Our Content Audit and Content Map make a great starting point for websites like this one–this client had an embarrassment of riches in terms of written content! So, we started by digging in to establish goals and identify sought-after content, and reorganizing it all in a way that flows more naturally.

While content review was happening, our Grayscreen Prototype gave their team a visual frame of reference for the site structure–our grayscreen is like an interactive wireframe, so they could get a better understanding of how elements fit together, what goes where, and how they can keep their content up-to-date. We also got to present them with our ideas for customizations, such as custom Content Types and Templates to make it even easier to manage their own pages and blog posts beautifully.

Design Mockups were where we brought their visual brand back into the picture, but also where we put their content-driven goals into action. We moved away from the bright “clown car”  colors, introduced organic textures, and brought in new photos that showcase their Student Life experience. We also built in eye-catching and clear calls-to-action, so viewers can more easily find what they’re looking for and what the school wants them to see.

Finally, while we were putting the site through rigorous pre-launch testing, we also hooked up our client’s staff with Training and Documentation, to help them feel like empowered managers of their new website. We walked them through the Dashboard functions they’d need most often, answered their questions, and equipped them with a handy custom-written user guide to refer back to and share with new staff.

The Results: More Engagement, Less Headache

No longer struggling with an off-brand website that they can’t update themselves, this client now has more time and energy to expand and grow their marketing. We’re not only driving traffic to their website — we’re also authentically reflecting the student life experience they offer, and encouraging visitors to take the next step towards admission.

Is your outdated website holding back your growth? Upswept Creative can free you, too, from the struggles of intimidating Dashboards and confused branding. It all starts with a conversation.

Get in touch to begin! »


Apr 27 2017

Cherry City: A Case Study in Design Work

Working in web design can be a complicated process. A lot of creative decisions need to be made while working under a deadline, and within a budget.  Both functionality and the client’s needs have to take  priority, all while looking prettier than the previous iteration. So how do the pros do it? We’d like to give you an example from a recent web design project we completed for Salem, Oregon’s roller derby league, Cherry City Roller Derby.

STARTING OUT

Cherry City came to us with an outdated website, in terms of both content and design. The platform on which their site was built made it difficult for league leadership to post updates. Key information for a roller derby league would get buried in the design. Upcoming events like fundraisers, bouts, and recruitments  were hard to find. League sponsors were also not prominently featured, making sponsorship a less attractive prospect. That can be a big problem for a non-profit!

ROLLIN’ UP OUR SLEEVES

We knew we wanted to build the site on WordPress. This would be a big usability upgrade for Cherry City, and would help them keep  the site’s content fresh and up-to-date. But, we also had to consider how to organize the content in a more beautiful and less confusing way.  Upcoming events needed to be easily accessible, and presented in a consistent visual format.

All of the important elements, front and center on the first page.

We drew on our experience working with Portland’s roller derby league, Rose City Rollers, to find approaches that we knew worked with this kind of content. We knew that public bouts needed to be at the forefront of their online presence, so we made their games the star of the show. But, Cherry City also puts emphasis on recruiting, and makes a special effort to be a welcoming league that keeps its members and volunteers engaged, so we created space in their Events area to highlight Recruitment events as well.
Keeping track of Sponsors at different levels would be important to growing their sponsorship base. We also knew that the same individuals could be involved with multiple teams or committees. We created structures for both Sponsors and Team Members, so Cherry City could easily manage those details all in one easy-to-find place, instead of updating multiple pages.

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

Make sure your site works on mobile, too.

To get the visual and functional improvements we were all looking for, we communicated regularly with Cherry City’s all-volunteer Board of Directors about our design inspirations. We shared with them our wireframes and graphic mock ups, ensuring that we were persisting in the right direction on the project.
After many rounds of feedback, and all of our tweaks made, we were happy to launch their brand new website near the beginning of April!  Their league leadership is quickly gaining comfort with the new structure we’ve built, and they’ll be able to keep their fans, future skaters and volunteers, and sponsors engaged with ease.