After a year of planning and deep collaboration across the College, Bank Street launched its new website on Wednesday, June 27. The new site features enhanced content, new navigation, and a redesigned format to provide a better user experience and to further enhance Bank Street’s well-established position as a leader in progressive education.
After an extensive RFP process, the project was launched in June of 2017 when Bank Street tapped the expertise of digital agency Systems Alliance Inc. (SAI) and began a collaborative redesign process with three main phases: Research & Discovery, Brand Assessment & Refinement, and Design & Development. The project was led by Bank Street’s core web committee of 14 faculty and staff members from across the College. The web committee met weekly and worked with SAI, division heads, and other constituents to conceive, develop, and ultimately build the new and improved website from scratch.
“This was an enormous project that could not have been realized without support from Cabinet, web committee members, and program leaders. Through collaboration and structured feedback loops, we were able to work together to create a site that truly reflects the spirt of the College and showcases all of the important work happening across Bank Street,” said Judy Johnson, Chief Information Officer and co-leader of the website revamp project alongside Katie Connelly, Chief of Staff, and Shara Benison, Associate Vice President of Communications.
The project ultimately culminated in the creation of three interconnected websites—bankstreet.edu, graduate.bankstreet.edu, and school.bankstreet.edu—designed to help both the Graduate School of Education and the School for Children market their programs to prospective students and families.
“The primary goal of the redesign project was to increase applications and enrollment in our graduate and children’s programs, support professional development partnerships, and strengthen our appeal to funders. Through research and an extensive review of the competitive landscape, the team created three distinct entry points to help streamline the user experience and highlight the most relevant and exciting components of each division to their unique target audiences. All three sites are unified by a cohesive visual brand identity to help key constituents instantly recognize Bank Street out in the world and easily identify the broad scope of our work,” said Benison.
During the Research & Discovery phase of the project, SAI conducted a number of in-depth interviews and focus groups with a range of different Bank Street groups and audiences and sent out an online survey that garnered over 500 responses from community members. This initial information gathering process helped SAI evaluate the needs of key constituents, identify the challenges and limitations of the current Bank Street website, and pinpoint how the new site can offer a better experience for users.
Moving into the Branding Assessment & Refinement phase, SAI presented their recommendations for the layout of the new site and, following several rounds of feedback with the Bank Street web committee, helped Bank Street refine its online voice, solidify the design direction of the new site, and identify ways in which to create well-branded content that both informed and connected with users.
Finally, during the Design & Development stage, SAI and the web committee created the new navigation structure, led training for select Bank Street staff on the new WordPress platform and content development, and created a streamlined process to identify and work with content owners to populate the new site. Each Bank Street team then had time to develop and design their pages, which was followed by an extensive review process by the Communications and IT teams to establish consistency across the site.
As part of the project, Bank Street also arranged several photo shoots to obtain fresh, high-quality images that deeply capture the energy, activity, and learning happening across the College. These extensive photoshoots resulted in a large number of captivating images that will continue to complement and enrich the design of the new website and make it visually appealing and compelling for all audiences.
The web committee members dedicated a great deal of time and energy to helping the College realize its vision of a new, modern, and responsive website on a very tight deadline. The committee included: Pamela Guarrera, Associate Director of Admissions Marketing at the Graduate School of Education; Kate Marcus, Director of Communications at the School for Children, Ashaki Charles, Associate Vice President of Development, Valentine Burr, Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at the Graduate School of Education; Sarah Willis, Senior Director in Strategy & Operations; Raj Malhotra, Director of Strategy, Finance, and Operations at the School for Children; Gretchen Adams, Director of Administration at the Graduate School of Education; Jennifer Woodruff, Assistant Director at the Bank Street Education Center; Rachel Reda, Communications Officer; Alexa Shore, Director of Design at the Bank Street Education Center; and Alexis Walters, Development Assistant in the Development and External Relations Office.
“In true Bank Street fashion, the website redesign project followed a democratic process with thoughtful and creative collaboration from the entire community. This hard work and deep engagement led to the creation of a beautiful new website with a fresh, clean look and a simplified structure that will help our audiences navigate the site and learn more about the Bank Street’s important work supporting children, families, and communities,” said Connelly.