CodeVA is an educational 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to promote computer science in the K-12 ecosystem across the Commonwealth of Virginia. CodeVA was founded with the principle that anyone can code and that every Virginia child has a fundamental right to computer science literacy. In 2016, CodeVA was successful in its pursuit of a law mandating that every Virginia child will receive access to essential computer science literacy (including coding) and computational thinking from Kindergarten through graduation.
COLAB was very excited to work with CodeVA because their mission is so closely aligned to the work COLAB does. In fact, COLAB team members lobbied to be assigned to this project because they felt so strongly about CodeVA’s efforts and impact.
CodeVA had an existing website but they weren’t meeting the goals they had with the traffic they were drawing to the site. When potential sponsors saw the website, they weren’t compelled to support CodeVA. The website didn’t communicate the legitimacy, efficacy, and seriousness of CodeVA’s efforts. In other words, they weren’t being taken seriously by corporate partners essential to support their mission. CodeVA was involved in a range of efforts to promote computer science activity, including education, training, and lobbying — however, those efforts weren’t tied together in clear messaging on the website, such that visitors could understand their broader mission and objectives.
COLAB and CodeVA collaborated closely on the redesign of the website. The first step was to figure out how to break down some of the content silos that existed on the current site. The goal was to better integrate their content and improve their messaging by more clearly relating the range of efforts and activities CodeVA pursues.
This approach needed to be balanced with clear wayfinding for the distinct audiences CodeVA targets, namely educators engaged in teaching computer science, students wanting to learn computer science, and individuals and organizations who want to support access to computer science education.
COLAB and CodeVA worked collaboratively to reorganize their information architecture. The result is now both the messaging and navigation are much more clear and direct, especially on the home page where those two objectives are most important.
In the discovery process, COLAB visited the CodeVA office space to ensure that the visual design captured the energy, enthusiasm, and fun of the CodeVA environment, team, and mission. One of the more fun takeaways was a mural of the CodeVA owl mascot, which COLAB incorporated into the website footer.
Additionally, COLAB wanted to incorporate important aspects of CodeVA’s brand, such as the // from their logo (a reference to the syntax of the hypertext transfer protocol, more commonly known as http://), which is evident in stylized blocks across the site. More subtle and fun technology elements woven throughout the site in background patterns and menus helped achieve the intended design and messaging.
As a result of our tight collaboration to improve their web presence, CodeVA’s website is now a more effective tool to help them achieve their most important goals. The site has a more intuitive structure for all audiences, designed to surface the most important content at any given time. These changes place CodeVA in a better position to recruit and enroll teachers in free professional development, and children in out-of-school programs.
The website better conveys the broader impact of the organization by more closely tying together the range of efforts and activities at CodeVA. Now that the website better educates and influences corporations to support CodeVA, sponsorships are growing, which is a very heartwarming outcome for all of us.