website redesign: UX Research & Strategy

The Schuylkill Center
for Environmental Education

(in development)

Schuylkill Center Design Mock-ups.001.jpeg

Overview

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education sought a website that reflected their legacy as trailblazers and leaders in a new generation of environmental education, while serving audiences they aspired to attract.

Their team approached us to redesign their website to support many of their organizational goals and mission to expand their engagement and impact in the region. We worked with their internal leadership team in an inclusive, collaborative process which helped to: streamline their marketing & communications efforts, tell an engaging and cohesive story about their organization, highlight the broad-reaching impact of their work, and identify opportunities & communication strategies that better positioned their team to achieve their goals going forward.

 
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Goals

Through stakeholder interviews, surveying, and an internal workshop, we identified the following goals for the redesign:

  • Support a single, unified web presence and brand

  • Provide flexibility for a growing and evolving organization

  • Create a user-friendly, inclusive and welcoming presence

  • Create a sense of being there—tell story in a more visual way

  • Be a more useful tool and resource for current audiences

  • Provide greater access to more people

  • Demonstrate they bring to environmental education

challenges

  • The website serves a wide range of audiences with varying needs—they needed the ability to present all facets of what they do cohesively.

  • The physical location of The Schuylkill Center—they are “geographically on an island” and difficult for some audiences get to. 

  • Current audiences only interact with them in one way and do not interact with other aspects of the organization or maintain a relationship.

  • Their main priority was to reach a wider, more diverse audience that was not currently engaged with their organization. These include:

    • Low-income communities and families of color have long been underserved and underrepresented in the outdoors

    • Families and parents of children beyond preschool age—specifically, teenagers

    • Local residents who do not know they exist or what opportunities are available to them in their own backyard

    • City residents, specifically young adult audiences, who need to know it’s worth the effort to visit

 

Strategy 1

Provide a welcoming and inviting presence.

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We provided guidance and recommendations for creating content for their current and desired audiences. Some of these included:

  • Use deliberately chosen imagery that reflects the kinds of audiences you seek to attract.

  • Engage with the audiences you hope to engage (in the real world) to learn what they value and what their interests are—then create programs and content that allows you to authentically engage and connect with these audiences.

  • Feature free and non-nature specific ‘Upcoming Events’ and ‘Programs’ to eliminate barriers.

  • Prominently feature pathways to the ‘Explore’ page throughout the website

  • Organize and tag content by categories to expand a user’s understanding of what they might experience beyond nature or the outdoors (i.e. Health, Wellness, Food & Drink

  • Avoid inside baseball language. Use the expertise on your team or work with a content strategist to refine the language you are using to make sure you are not creating barriers.

 

Strategy 2

Organize content for an external audience.

The previous website was organized around the organization’s internal structure, which provided for a confusing user experience and unnecessary distinction for an external audience. We revisited the website architecture and focused on the experience of the first-time visitor.

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We also created persistent tabs for some of the sites standout, key content—including the ‘Explore’ tab and an interactive ‘I Found A….’ drop-down, which helps users who have found an injured animal to quickly find the appropriate resources and instructions on what to do. 

Strategy 3

Use in-context CTO’s strategically to engage audiences further.

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We learned their audiences often interact with them in a more transactional way—in person and online— quickly navigating to the content they are looking for or dropping off/picking up their child from preschool, and missing other content or activities they may be interested in.

We created a suite of modules and widgets for their team to insert important CTO’s (calls-to-action) strategically throughout the website—like annual appeal donation form or volunteer sign-up.

 
 

Strategy 4

Package the experience.

We created a stand-alone, immersive section of the website that functions as a “digital brochure” and captures the feeling of The Schuylkill Center, a sense of place and gives users the lay of the land.

This ‘Explore’ section is easily accessed as a persistent tab in the global navigation and essentially packages the content from throughout the website into one streamlined experience for their users.

This section highlights the itinerary in an engaging way—outlining key features and the range of activities available—and utilizing image-driven visuals incorporating trail map elements to provide a sense of exploration and feel of the property.