Brooklyn Friends School (BFS) is an independent Quaker school in downtown Brooklyn, serving over eight hundred students from early childhood through twelfth grade. In Fall 2014, BFS came to SMAKK for a new website and brand identity to give the school community and external audiences a more effective and efficient communications platform. BFS sought a robust digital home for the school that supported their rich learning environment where students and community members are encouraged to voice their convictions, to discover and pursue their passions, and to seek truth.
To build a website that would more accurately reflect the school's mission and standards of excellence, as well as support their operational needs, we started with a comprehensive discovery process. Over the course of several weeks we conducted focus groups with the core user types: students, parents, faculty, alumni and administrators to index the schools needs. We then created a suite of UX planning materials that proposed possible solutions and created a phasing schedule to add in features as the school’s needs, and budget scaled. At the end of our discovery process, we had created an overall site map, project plan, budget and timeline that used agile sprint cycles to collaborate heavily with internal departments at the school and designed a site that ultimately met every user, and admin’s needs.
With a comprehensive project plan in place, SMAKK Studios has been collaborating with every department at Brooklyn Friends School making a platform that will work school-wide. We're creating public-facing pages to support strategic goals for communications, admissions, development and alumni relations. And we've made a simple-to-use backend framework that solves each departments' operational issues for parents, faculty, students and administrators.
One of the school's largest challenges has been around information management. The school's ecosystem includes parents, faculty, students and administrators who all have different access levels to shared information. They also have different user prerogatives, like updating student medical forms, paying tuition, tracking test scores and managing homework assignments. BFS's previous solution was a hard-to-navigate portal system with multiple logins, tangled hierarchy and complicated alerts. After interviewing users, and the administrators charged with managing the portals, we created a distilled user dashboard that makes it easy to access important info, push alerts to different user types and simply login to access the school's multiple 3rd party information management systems all in one place.
Meet the school
Brooklyn Friends School is a rich community of students, faculty and alumni. In talking to the impressive members of the school we knew that these individuals were BFS's biggest asset and to bring the school to life, we had to find a way to integrate storytelling on the site. We challenged ourselves to create a place to share interactive profiles of individuals, and give the school a story sharing platform to ask the community to respond to open-ended inquires like "Because of BFS..." The results were a robust "Meet the School" section on the site that brings the community to life online.
Brooklyn Friends School tasked us with improving their development team's online giving efforts. We used our knowledge of best practices for transactional web design, gleaned from years of building ecommerce websites, to inform the user experience. To effectively engage visitors we crafted a rich experience that would emotionally captivate and compel visitors to give to fundraising efforts online. The new giving landing page directly connect gifts' impact, and provides visitors with simple, clear pathways to give to Brooklyn Friends School. We also created pages for specific campaigns to measure progress, and draw a line between gifts and results for the school.
News and Calendar
Brooklyn Friends School had numerous challenges managing their news and calendars. With multiple admins for the Upper and Lower Schools, Athletics, Arts and school wide events, managing one public-facing resource had proved impossible. The current site uses 25 different blogs and calendars to update parents, students and community members on school happenings. This is a complex mess for administrators to manage, and a poor user experience for community members trying to stay up-to-date. The new calendar and news pages SMAKK created for the school have different admin levels built into one interface, so multiple users can update the calendar, and one administrator moderates what content get pushes out to the school, all in real time. The results are uncomplicated, single access points to all of the school's happenings, where visitors can filter and sort to easily find the content most relevant to them.