The Department of Labor’s Job Corps program suite of websites (one national and 125 local sites) was originally designed sometime before 2009. The design was dated, the content stale, and the language formal and uninviting. The site was difficult to navigate and not mobile responsive, the information was disorganized, and the messaging highlighted formal documentation over showcasing the historic federal program and recruiting new students.
The Job Corps program has seen declining enrollment in recent years and wanted a website that would appeal to the target demographic, 16 to 24-year-olds living in the United States who are undereducated or underemployed and who have a financial need for assistance.
Team & Roll
I began as a designer on the Web Redesign team, but within one month of hire was promoted to the team’s Creative Lead. Over the course of the contract, the dev lead and I lead a team of up to 15 staff (developers, designers, and copywriter). I planned team sprints, wrote and assigned user stories, and presented work to the Federal client.
We began with extensive research into the Job Corps program, its current branding and marketing efforts, and Neilson research studies into the needs and expectations of the target demographic.
The client, who had declined multiple design concepts before I arrived, was eager to see and approve a homepage, one that would appeal to prospects and increase online applications. So, focusing there, I pulled important information out of PDF brochures that had previously littered the website and created a clear Call to Action for potential students. The client was pleased with my first iteration, and I continued to present our progress at the end of each sprint for review and approval.
I followed up with wireframes, design standards, additional mockups, and InVision prototypes for client approval and developers’ reference. I reviewed and approved page designs from the design team while reorganizing and rewriting site content until we hired a copywriter.
Because the client had rejected previous concepts, I knew to avoid the standard USA website guidelines in favor of something more eye-catching and edgy. Video, animation, and interactive elements to draw the user’s attention. The final design was based on the most current Job Corps marketing material available at the time. Keeping the bold colors, but adding a black, white, and gray to make it more sophisticated and mature.
We pulled all the reports and PDFs that were previously scattered throughout the site onto one page offering appropriate filters for ease of use.
We expanded the FAQ section and added career detail pages, pulling details previously available only on the center sites onto the national site. To make the sites easier to maintain, we moved the duplicated content, like center contact information, career details, and FAQs into the national database and feed it to the sub-sites via an API.
The team created one template for the 120+ subsites. We matched the branding of the national site with a few variations on the design. The content is generated from the national site database, allowing for a much more streamlined editing process.
Previously, users had to log into each site individually to make changes. Now, changing the tagline in the footer, for example, is done once in the national site database. Additionally, we recently added photo slideshows to the template and the ability to customize the template photos.
Job Corps Center website template