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The Wallace Foundation

Bridging Knowledge Gaps in an Education Philanthropy Website

A national philanthropy dedicated to strengthening education leadership and enrichment for disadvantaged communities, The Wallace Foundation is a leader in research that helps improve education practices and outcomes. Unfortunately, their confusing, content-heavy website failed to engage audiences, undermining the foundation’s efforts. Wallace asked Constructive to develop a digital strategy and create a resource-rich knowledge hub to strengthen the field and support their grantees.

Research & Digital Strategy

What do we need to learn first?

A culture of research and deliberate thinking is woven throughout The Wallace Foundation. For their website, this meant putting significant effort into uncovering the insights needed to serve both the foundation’s needs and those of a diverse audience of grantees, research experts, policymakers, the K-12 education field, and other NGOs. Alongside a detailed audit of Wallace’s existing site and content, we engaged their experts to learn about strategic goals, pain points, editorial process, and publishing workflows. An in-depth analysis of other relevant sites followed, providing food for thought on potential features, functionality, and best practices.

User Research & Testing

What do educators really need?

While our research clarified Wallace’s goals and our collective ideas on how to best achieve them, it was still important to make sure our assumptions aligned with the expectations of real users. We performed rigorous user research & testing—conducting surveys, interviews, card-sorting exercises, and use-case tests that gave everyone perspective into how their audience felt Wallace’s website would be most useful. We then used these insights to create detailed user personas and recommendations to drive the user experience design process.

Before Redesign

A website that was old before its time.

While only 3 years old, Wallace’s website left the impression of one much older. Numerous usability and accessibility issues made finding content difficult. Visually, the site felt generic and was hard to read, undermining Wallace’s leadership. And ineffective use of imagery failed to engage audiences or connect Wallace’s work to the realities of educators working in the field and to the importance of the issues they face.

Content & Information Architecture

How can best balance mission, issues, and resources?

A key tension in structuring Wallace’s website was prioritizing quickly delivering valuable resources to experts while providing the context needed to educate newer audiences on the issues and the foundation’s approach. First, our content strategy detailed site-wide recommendations, down to the page-level, on how to improve content to align Wallace’s and their audiences’ needs. We then designed and tested a system of over 25 page templates with the structure and functionality needed to support delivering Wallace’s wide variety of content.

Website Design

How can best balance mission, issues, and resources?

With delivery of research reports, tools, and other content a priority, our design strategy prioritizes making content findable; then presented in ways that make it more engaging to read. Clean layouts, minimalist interfaces, and a system of icons and labels provide a fast, structured experience. Editorial design techniques and typographic hierarchies create scannable pages that surface findings, insights, and top-level takeaways. And calls-to-action convert downloads of Wallace’s research reports—a key measure of success.

The Wallace Foundation’s new website helps catalyze change in the K-12 education sector by making valuable research more accessible, surfacing key insights, and empowering teachers and school leaders.

Knowledge Center

Can we make it even faster for experts to find resources?

With research and resources being the star of the show in The Wallace Foundation’s website, a big focus of our digital strategy was to create an online knowledge center that allowed for incredibly granular searches. Along with standard search, users can easily browse by any combination of category, sub-category, and content type—and further refine their search by publication date. We then collaborated with the Wallace’s Sharepoint development partner to make sure that the public-facing website would elegantly integrate with both the foundation’s existing knowledge management system and CMS that would drive the user experience.

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