Reimagining the Children's Cottage

A UX case study on content strategy and visual design.

Duration

3 weeks

TEAM

4 person team

Roles

  • Content Stategy
  • Visual Design

Tools

  • SketchBook
  • Sketch
  • InVision

Methods

  • Survey
  • Phone Interviews
  • Usability Testing
  • Affinity Mapping
  • Design Studio
  • Wireframing
  • Prototyping
  • Content Strategy

Deliverables

  • Prototype
  • Visual Style Guide
  • Content Style Guide
  • Revised Copy
  • Photography
Other projects: 

The Children’s Cottage Cooperative is a non-profit cooperative preschool located in Larkspur, California. It provides parents with a unique experience to engage directly in their child’s development by participating in the operations of the preschool.

The Problem

When parents are searching for a new preschool, the website is an important deciding factor. The Cottage's website currently lacks essential information such as a complete mission statement, visuals, and information on enrollment and programming. In addition, the website is difficult to navigate and information difficult to find in the clutter. These factors complicate the experience for parents, who need to find information to make a decision and to enroll their child at the Cottage.

"The website is boring. There is a lot of blah, blah, blah."
— Anonymous Parent

The Solution

A redesign of the Cottage's preschool website that effectively communicates what the the Cottage is, and in a way that is both visually appealing and inviting. An experience with a clearly defined information architecture that engages and inspires parents seeking to learn more about the preschool and to enroll their kids.

Interactive Prototype

A mockup showing the new Children's Cottage website on a Macbook Pro.

Empathizing

We began our journey by reaching out to parents, utilizing a screener survey then reaching out with phone interviews.

Research Breakdown
  • 35 Potential Parents
  • 5 Current Parents
  • 7 Interviews

Insights

Information sought by parents in their preschool search:

A chart showing the information most sought by parents in their preschool search. The majority of parents, 34 parents, seek curriculum information and information on the educational philosophy. 26 parents seek information on cost, while 20 seek information on enrollment. 19 parents seek information on contact information and programs offered. 18 parents seek information on the experience of teachers and staff. Lastly, 17 parents seek information on the teacher to student ratio.

Most important factors in choosing a preschool:

A chart showing the most important factors sought by parents in their preschool search. The majority of parents, 32 parents, see curriculum and educational philosophy as important in their selection. Followed by 29 parents who view location as important and 26 parents who view the experience of the teachers and staff as important. Meanwhile, 25 parents view cost as important with 19 parents viewing the teacher to student ratio as important. Lastly, 14 parents view the programs offered as important and 12 parents view the time commitment as important.

PErsonas

From our research data, we created a primary, secondary, and special persona — choosing to focus on the prospective parent as the main user to design for.

An infographic of the main persona which we are designing for.. Jill and her family are moving to Marin because her husband recently was promoted. She doesn’t know anyone or really anything about the school system in California. It is also the first time that Jill is enrolling her children into school. She is also currently finishing the logistics of the move through a lot of emails and wrapping up her job in advertising. Her twins are 3 years old, and one of them has special needs.

Ethnographic Research

After speaking with parents of children currently enrolled at the Cottage, we identified a need to tell the Cottage's story better, in addition to visualizing a more functional site to meet the needs of prospective parents.

In order to create an experience that genuinely reflected the Cottage, we decided that a field trip would be the best way to understand how, as none of us are parents.

A couple UX teammates and I doing research. We could easily work this glittery play dough into our minimum viable product!
A couple UX teammates and I doing research. We could easily work this glittery play dough into our minimum viable product!

The outcomes from our trip made a significant impact on the project, as we were able to speak with our stakeholders and identify with them. We also had the opportunity to engage with the children and parents, and to capture the special feeling of being in the Cottage itself.

Content Strategy

During this trip I was able to produce visuals for the new site, tying my past experience as a photojournalist into the UX design process.

CLICK or TAP on the image below to view additional photographs.
Teacher Pammi interacts with a student during show and tell at the Cottage.

We combined these photographs with revised copy for the website, in addition to a design style guide, and content strategy guide, which set the tone and personality for the new site.

Information Architecture

We tackled the information architecture of the site, starting with the creation of a clearer navigation then determining the pages and content for the new site.

Current Navigation

A screenshot of what the current navigation looks like.

Reworked Navigation

A screenshot of the new navigation.
A picture of stickies making up an affinity map, showing a rough organization of stickies into categories.

Competitive Analysis

I evaluated the current website and the websites of 7 other preschools in the area.

Affinity MApping

We combined insights from the competitive analysis and feedback from parents.

A chart showing the features and sections of various preschool websites in the area.

SiteMap

A chart showing what the current sitemap of the Children's Cottage website looks like.

Before

After

A chart showing the new sitemap of the Children's Cottage website.

Visual Design

With a good idea of the information architecture, we moved into visual design, starting broadly with the design studio.

We created wireframes and prototypes, conducting 10 usability tests throughout the process and iterating on our designs accordingly.

Usability Takeaways
  • Pages contained too much text.
  • Fonts, colors and spacing were inconsistent.
  • Co-Op parent obligations were not understandable enough.

I handled the design of the Support, Virtual Tour, Teachers, and Events pages which can be viewed with more detail in the following section.

To view artifacts CLICK or TAP the images below.

Design STudio

Brainstorming, rapid sketching, and speed presenting.
A rough sketch that we could all agree on.

Prototype

An interactive prototype is also available on InVision.
A rough sketch that we could all agree on.

Mobile

Mobile wireframes and prototypes were created during the process, but seeing that this implementation would mainly be used on desktop, the mobile experience became a stretch goal.

A mockup of a parent browsing the new Children's Cottage website.

Conclusion

What started as a website redesign evolved into an endeavor much greater. We were able to deliver a website that not only met the needs prospective parents and of the Cottage, but also a website that exceeded expectations.

The project became a journey that impacted all of us. It was truly a great experience being able to work with and for the parents of the Cottage, and I look forward to seeing how the fruits of our work are implemented.

"Enoch and his partners were able to understand our community and then - in some amazing way - take all that we are and all that we aspire to be, and put it into website form. Our gratitude for their work goes beyond words."
— Ryan Grady, Parent

Let's Connect!