Web Strategy | Web Design | Web Development
College Forward is a nationally-recognized, near-peer coaching program that pairs recent college graduates with students who are underserved to empower them to achieve their post-secondary goals.
The organization hopes to lead by building and sharing the most effective, most efficient, and most exciting college access and completion programs in the country.
Skip Ahead: The Challenge | The Approach | The Results
With a meaningful mission and a strong brand, College Forward was only missing one component to success — a website that clearly displays the organization’s programs, resources, and services in a responsive, easily navigable format. As an organization that depends on digital engagement from partners, coaches, and students, offering an optimal user experience is critical.
When College Forward approached HMG about a web redesign, its previous website was outdated and in need of a more professional look to appeal to both partners and donors. Poorly structured, challenging to navigate, and lacking responsive design, the site left many users frustrated trying to find the information they were seeking. An even bigger obstacle, students were often unable to locate helpful resources for their success.
To establish a comprehensive strategy for the site’s new design, HMG first defined College Forward’s organizational goals: increasing donations, making student resources more accessible, and scheduling more demos for CoPilot – an industry-leading student information system providing coaches and advisors with a 360-degree view of their students. Designing a site that supported these overall goals, we focused on creating a better digital experience by improving site speed, response time, and mobile functionality.
Our first priority was to strategically reorganize content to enhance the overall user journey. We identified the various audiences that would be visiting the site: students, coaches, partners, and donors, among others. Then we structured the site with new pages and sections that provided a simplified path for visitors as they seek out specific information. Focusing on the goal of increased engagement, we also made sure to make features like the newsletter subscription and blog more prominent.
To make it easier for visitors to make a donation on the site, we also simplified the donation component with an easy-to-use donation form, seamlessly integrated with the SalesForce platform to track volunteer/donor data.
In order to speak to both students and potential donors/partners, we wanted to create a professional yet approachable look for College Forward’s new site with a clean, enterprise feel. We did this by combining a traditional look with fun, youthful elements, such as rounded corners and hand drawn graphics, creating a softer, more welcoming aesthetic. Using the organization’s logo as inspiration, we incorporated hand-drawn design elements to maintain playfulness throughout the site.
You’ll also notice a live number count on the site displaying relevant statistics – like the number of students served – to visually convey College Forward’s impact. In our design, we prioritized motion through video usage and fading techniques to provide an eye-catching and engaging experience for site visitors.
We developed the site on the WordPress framework, incorporating the page builder, Elementor, so the College Forward team would be internally equipped to administer the site as updates are needed. The site’s development also required custom features, including an extensive filtering functionality on the “Our Team” page to more easily search for staff members based on their department and team.
We couldn’t be more grateful for a partner like College Forward. In a smooth, enjoyable process, we collaboratively moved through brand evaluation, web strategy, and web design and development to produce a sophisticated digital presence for an organization with a nationwide impact on education. Within one week of launch, College Forward saw the recruitment of new AmeriCorp coaches through its enhanced digital platform – an exciting accomplishment in light of the previous non-mobile-friendly user experience.
We look forward to continuing to support College Forward in a long-term partnership and seeing continued growth and engagement with the brand new web presence over the coming months!
[HMG takes] a really good strategic approach to design. They’re not just going to build a pretty new website for you; they want to make sure all of the pages and functionality are based on a good business strategy.
– Nikole Saulsberry, Associate Director of Marketing – College Forward
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