Teach For America

Teach For America came to Blue State looking for solutions to several challenges. A large nation-wide nonprofit organization, TFA’s ethos is to improve educational disparity by mobilizing recent graduates to teach in one of over 50 high-need areas across the U.S. Every year, they evaluate 56,000 applicants and then prepare around 3,000 corps members for their first year of teaching — but this application process and training was made difficult by the fact that every year, corps members, applicants, and TFA staff had to find their way around a very fragmented online experience, spread across multiple platforms and not integrated at all.

 

Designing an integrated experience

The first experience that a potential corps member was likely to have with TFA was visiting the public site and signing up to start an online application to be considered for a place in the corps. The public site and the logged-in application site were hosted on two different platforms — and other than the moment when public site visitors were sent over to begin their application, the two sites felt completely unrelated.

MY ROLE

Senior Designer in a team of other designers and UX designers.

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To unify the the whole experience the first step for our design team was to redefine Teach for America’s visual identity. Having a strong and consistent design language was imperative to help inform and guide the user into achieving whatever their goal was in a given moment, whether it be finding information or beginning the application process.

 
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The new design system needed to be robust, flexible and fully responsive to accommodate multiple content needs and devices. We relied heavily on a strong typographic hierarchy and lots of white space to guide the user through the content.

 
 
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Public Site

Once the visual identity was established we worked in constant collaboration with User Experience designers to make sure we designed a visual system that could provide great ease of use and provide constant support to applicants.

The public site is informative and relies heavily on photography and storytelling. It is about introducing themselves, their mission and the 51 regions where they work.

 
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Regional Landing Pages

A key piece of the TFA experience is the relocation aspect of the program. Young professionals apply to become teachers in a school from a region that is probably unknown to them. We felt it was important to highlight this part of the experience in order to give each region the opportunity to showcase their uniqueness and also to best inform the applicants when the time to choose their preferred regions comes in the application process. As a logged in applicant the experience would support you by showing personalized touts and other graphic reminders.

 
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Application Journey

Due to the nature of the content, compared to the public-facing site, the application process would have to be much denser in terms of text, instructions, and form fields for the user to complete. To help the applicant navigate and complete the application the UX team eliminated and consolidated content, making the AI simpler. A key feature of the application is the dashboard (below) which function is to guide the applicant through the application and help him or her anticipate their needs. The applicant gets personalized touts, buttons and other graphic elements like progress pie charts that support and move the applicant forward.

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Summary

Last year the TFA experience was a fragmented and confusing one. Prospective applicants were dropping out of the process because of how overwhelming and confusing the whole process was. Through multiple interviews and sketching sessions the UX team was successful in restructuring the page’s IA. Through the use of visual design and graphic cues we managed to create a beautiful and thoughtful experience for users and applicants alike. Since then Teach For America has had more 56,000 applications submitted.

 
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