We’ve previously discussed how Scholantis works with school districts who already have an existing and well defined brand. We also work with Districts that require a brand to be developed or modified to work well on the web.
Given what some corporations spend on branding and logo recognition, it’s no wonder that schools, given their public accountability, shy away from engaging a design agency to create a brand. Often, Districts simply have a logo and perhaps a colour (more often than not, it’s a shade of blue). This is also true of schools; a logo perhaps, a colour or two, a sports team identity will often suffice as a school brand.
Although Design and branding tends not to be a priority for Districts, there can be no doubt that good design lends any organization, immediate credibility in the eyes of its stakeholders. Veronica Baker, the Saskatoon Public Schools Communications Manager, puts it well, “Regardless of the degree of competition in which a District is situated, we must clearly showcase the work and contributions we make to the community”. Our team would certainly agree with Veronica’s statement and add that, clean design and an intuitive user experience encourages user engagement and reduces support calls. And besides, if you’re going to build a new IT infrastructure, it might as well look good!
The Scholantis Design Process breaks down into five clean steps, as follows:
- First we meet. Obviously! Our team sets up a meeting (either in person or via videoconferencing) with the key project decision-makers. In this first meeting we outline the process ahead and set one very simple and important ground rule: Anyone with the power to veto the design must be fully engaged for the duration of the process ahead. No exceptions. Our process allows for a professional design without the time and costs usually associated with branding. As such it’s impossible to efficiently design under circumstances where someone with veto powers steps in near the end stage and challenges the work that’s been done. At the end of this first meeting, after all the information has been shared, we conclude by answering any questions the group may have.
- Following the first meeting, we send out an on-line questionnaire, the purpose of which is to gain an understanding of the District; it’s mission, vision and values. We ask questions about websites’ you like, those you don’t. We even ask questions about the sort of information you’d like to see and how you communicate with schools within your District on a day-to-day basis or in the event of a snow day, for example. Typically we recommend that the questionnaire be sent to between 10-20 individuals; and absolutely anyone with the power to veto. (We’re a real stickler for this one!) It’s also a good idea to include user groups such as teachers, parents and students in order to get the most comprehensive sense of what’s required for content and design on the new website. We typically allow two weeks to complete this questionnaire. At which point, we then get to work designing for you.
- Two to three weeks after receiving the answers to your questionnaire, we’ll be ready to present our mood-board. The mood-board confirms to all that we have completely understood the stakeholders’ input, as indicated through the questionnaires. We also review colour pallets, fonts and other websites, which stakeholders suggested in their questionnaires, during this second meeting. The mood-board session is extremely visual and hence allows for everybody to participate in the process – discussions are set up to be fully inclusive and to give everyone a chance to be heard.
- Based on the feedback from our mood-board session our design team gets to work creating a series of mock-ups, which include: a District homepage, two District internal pages, and one or two individual school sites, to demonstrate several preferred color schemes. Using these mock-ups as the focal point, we then host a third meeting to review the mock-ups and solicit feedback from stakeholders.
- After this final meeting and sign-off by stakeholders, the Scholantis User Experience Team gets to work building your website to your design.
Well there you have it! That’s how we create, professional and attractive website (with branding) for your District, in five easy steps!
The Scholantis design process gives districts and schools impactful, effective design, without project delays, going over budget and going off the rails. The result is a design that is representative of your district, the schools and its community.