Originally created in 1983 as Adopt-A-School by the Austin Independent School District, Austin Partners in Education works in partnership with Austin ISD to reinvent the urban-school experience and build a talent pipeline of local students to grow the regional economy. APIE has trained and placed more than 16,000 tutors and mentors who have supported over 35,000 Austin ISD students.
As a 501c3 that relies on volunteers and donors to promote its mission, Austin Partners in Education understood the importance of having a strong, relatable logo and an updated website so that supporters could more easily identify and engage with the brand.
As we began our partnership with APIE, we faced the unexpected challenge of working together through a global pandemic that impacted our teams, workflow, and project timeline. Fortunately, we navigated these challenges together and pivoted as needed, all the while maintaining momentum to keep the project moving forward.
Additionally, it was critically important to APIE that all team members were on board with the direction and design of the new site. To achieve unilateral support, we worked with many of APIE’s team members to ensure everyone had the chance to be heard and contribute ideas.
On top of needing a visual refresh, APIE wanted the new website to educate visitors as well as promote volunteerism and donations. The old site was difficult to navigate, and lacked the clear calls to action needed to guide users. In order to more accurately convey the organization’s work and thus attract more volunteers, APIE focused on streamlining the site’s navigation and clarifying brand messaging.
Our first step was to redesign APIE’s logo to create a more modern, professional look for the brand. We leveraged research previously done by IBM and built off of the preliminary logo designs it had presented to APIE. The goal for the logo was to create something that was quintessentially Austin, while still representing the work in education that APIE accomplishes. We recreated the Austin skyline and brought more balance to the logo in order to enhance the overall visual appeal.
One of APIE’s primary goals was to simplify the processes of donating and volunteering. This support is the backbone of the organization, so making a simple and user-friendly experience was of utmost importance. Since APIE uses Salesforce for its CRM, we wanted to continue leveraging the tools and functionalities of the platform on the new site. We planned to create a seamless integration between APIE’s new site and Salesforce pages for donor and volunteer engagement.
From various mentorship programs to background checks for Austin ISD volunteers, APIE provides a wide array of services. Consequently, the previous site had a lot of unorganized pages, making it difficult to find desired information. To better lead visitors to the right content, we focused on reorganizing the site’s content, creating distinct sections for each program and service.
Clearer navigation and improved site architecture helps to create a smooth user experience so different audiences can quickly find what they are looking for. The full scope of APIE’s work is now accurately represented on its website through strong brand messaging and engaging content.
Taking into consideration the different audiences that would be visiting the site – mentors, donors, and volunteers – we wanted to keep the aesthetic friendly and approachable. To achieve this look, we paired rounded edges with a primary color scheme, incorporating yellow from the previous APIE logo as the site’s accent color. We also redesigned Salesforce pages to perfectly match the look and feel of the main site, creating a seamless user experience to the donor and volunteer pages.
Given the importance of the Salesforce volunteer and donation pages, incorporating these functionalities into the site was a top priority for our team. On the previous website, too much overlap between the volunteer and donation pages caused confusion for site visitors. By adding targeted calls-to-action on the homepage that lead to designated Salesforce forms, we were able to separate the user journey for volunteers and donors. We also added a “Why Donate” page to help donors better understand what their contributions are supporting.
With various hands involved in the site’s administration, APIE needed flexibility with an easy-to-use CMS so that non-technical team members could make edits to the new site. We opted to build the site on WordPress since it provides a simple administrative experience, and implemented the Elementor page builder so content could be easily updated and added. We also hosted a training session with APIE team members to ensure they were equipped to manage the site. The APIE team is already showcasing their administrative capabilities by actively updating the global header we created for the site in order to create time-sensitive, highly visible calls-to-action that appear site-wide.
Now equipped with a modern and inviting web presence, Austin Partners in Education is ready to transform the lives of even more students. By migrating the organization’s site to WordPress, and incorporating the Elementor page builder, APIE’s own team is in control of their powerful new website.
Even with the unique challenges that 2020 brought, working with APIE was a fulfilling and efficient process. Thanks to clear communication and trust from both sides, we were able to build out exactly what APIE needed to propel its organization through 2020. Not only can the APIE team members now make better use of their website, but they can better help their community.