This was a project to expand the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) website to include a new section dedicated to showcasing resources for early childhood education (ages 0-5).
- User Research
- UX Design
- Stakeholder Management
November 2019 – February 2020
The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) lacks a centralized source of information to document OUSD’s kinder(garten) readiness initiatives, best practices, programming, and resources.
- Update the OUSD website to showcase Kinder Readiness practices, programs, and resources within the district
- Facilitate adoption of practices and sharing of resources
OUSD Administrators & Educators
Primary User Groups
- OUSD Administrators
- Education Practitioners
- Parents (and their Children)
- Community Agencies
I interviewed the project stakeholders to form initial personas for the primary user groups. I continued to refine them as new information was revealed through user research and testing.
A Wealth Of Resources
At the beginning of the project the stakeholders shared a wealth of potential sources of content spread across several Google drive folders and emails. It was hard to make sense of everything at first.
Prioritized by Audience Type
I found it helpful to map out each content item in a spreadsheet. From there I was able to categorize each item by type. Working with the project stakeholders we determined how each item fit with the priorities of each user group.
Content Mapped (To User Groups)
In addition to grouping the contents items by type I found it helpful to provide an overlay that indicates how the different user groups might prioritize this content.
Fitting Into A Larger Context
Expanding The Existing Menu
Site Map Of The Expansion
OUSD’s website uses a custom flavor of the Blackboard CMS that includes a range of templates. Despite the variety, the templates are fairly restrictive in what they allow. Additional customization is possible …for a price (paid to Blackboard).
The goal of the current design approach is to strike a balance between making the most of the existing style and conventions while adding a minimum amount of customization for a maximum improvement in utility.
One of the more visually complex content areas is the “Practitioner Resources” section. I find it helpful to include a thumbnail preview of each document. This leverages the power of our eyes to subconsciously differentiate between slightly dissimilar objects much faster than we could through reading the titles alone (which often sound confusingly similar).
High Fidelity Mockups
It saved a lot of time to take the wireframes I’d already created and build directly on top of them to create a visually representative mockup with increasing fidelity.
Using the Craft plugin for Sketch I created an interactive prototype in InVision. This interactive prototype was instrumental in advancing the conversation with stakeholders, interviewing users, and performing usability tests.
The current version of the prototype can be viewed here.
Testing & Feedback
Starting With Simple (And Fast) Surveys
Digging Deeper With Interviews
Meeting People Where They’re At
I led a series of interviews with representatives from the various primary user groups. These conversations were invaluable to the project.
- user groups prioritize content very differently
- where a given child fits along the education path is a consistent frame of reference across user groups
- the district needs better tools to help parents navigate early childhood education
- use less words
- more calls to action
- clarify relevance of content sections for different user groups
OUSD Stakeholders Love It
The project stakeholders have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the new expansion to the OUSD site.
Educators Save Time
Since the site update launched we’ve received positive comments from OUSD educators indicating the new site content makes their job a little easier, citing the convenience of the newly hosted resource documentation (that previously existed only in email inboxes and individual educator’s hard drives).