How can we make a complex process more intuitive?

The Challenge

Developing a more consistent online presence for Teach for America

Teach For America helps to address the enormous problem of educational inequity in the US by recruiting and placing teachers in 51 regions across dozens of states, each with its own unique certification requirements and staffing needs. Their websites included a main public site, a logged-in platform for teaching corps applicants, and 53 microsites — each of which looked and functioned differently. This created a confusing experience for those hoping to join the teaching corps.

Teach For America partnered with Blue State Digital to personalize and simplify the process for prospective teachers — and develop a consistent brand experience across the various aspects of its digital presence.

A Teach for America teacher with students

The Insight

Creating a simpler application experience

While assessing Teach For America’s technology infrastructure, we also looked at ways to streamline the steps of the application process itself. We worked with the Teach For America team to tweak the order of steps and consolidate activities where possible, then added clear visual indicators to help the applicant understand where they were in the process and what they were expected to do next.

Alongside our work with the application team, we also collaborated closely with the creative team at Teach For America. With a rebranding effort running parallel to the website redesign, we were able to impact design decisions being made across the organization — while also putting the new look and feel into practice with the public site and local chapter microsites.

The new Teach for America homepage

The Approach

Convening a cross-organization team of designers, developers, and education experts

While we needed to maintain a separate platform for the application, we were able to create a seamless experience for users who had to switch frequently between the two sites. Since the application and vetting process can span several months, the new logged-in experience also features a detailed dashboard with status markers to help the applicant understand what they have completed and what still needs to be done. Additionally, we added personalized modules that could be woven in throughout the pages of the public site to remind applicants of upcoming deadlines even when they left the application space — or to prompt new prospects to apply in the first place.

Teach for America's new application process screen

The Outcome

Preparing the site to inspire, recruit, and train future generations of teachers

Working as a unified team with Teach For America’s developers on this large-scale effort, we helped them bring our strategy to life with a beautiful new site that dramatically improves the user experience for applicants nationwide. The redesigned experience smooths out and clarifies many parts of the process that applicants had previously found frustrating or cryptic, without disrupting the experience of existing applicants and corps members — or the administrators who rely on the process to get teachers placed into the schools that need them most. We also helped Teach For America future-proof the website by migrating the complex enterprise system from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, enabling in-house developers to iterate quickly on solutions in the future.

Moving forward, our flexible design system will help the organization speak with one voice to applicants, prospects, and supporters across the country.

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