The Department of Education recognized U.Group as the grand prize winner in their three-month innovation challenge to rethink the way users experience ED.gov, beating out 59 other entries.
“The Department identified the most innovative, future-forward, and user-friendly designs,” the Department shared in a press release announcing the grand prize winner. “U.Group paired its creativity with in-depth research, content strategy, and experience working with government, consumer, and education organizations,” the announcement continued.
The U.Group team jumped at the chance to field an agile team and apply its more than 30-year history of creating exceptional user experiences for federal clients. To give you an inside look at our approach to this challenge, we asked the team members who worked on the challenge submission—including Garrett Hoppin, Marc Rambeau , and Zaid White—to share their thoughts.
What was your approach for this project?
The U.S. Department of Education paves the way for every student to reach their potential. We found that ED.gov, the Department’s hub for information and resources, could do so much more to achieve that mission. Our concept transforms ED.gov into a human-centered, action-driven platform that puts the information Americans need at their fingertips.
What went into creating the six page designs you created?
We applied each step of our digital transformation process—explore, envision, execute, enhance—to inform the designs with deep-rooted strategy, compelling content, and actionable insights. This included hosting user interviews, conducting landscape analyses, and completely rethinking the site’s information architecture.
What features do you want people to know about?
The page designs are smart, accessible, and vibrant. Using large, two-dimensional mega menus, we put a broader and deeper view of the site’s content at users’ fingertips to help with navigation. With the U.S. Web Design System as a foundation to our design explorations, we imagined a new online brand for the Department that is rooted in a best-practice approach to web design with a color and typographic system that achieves full compliance with Section 508 accessibility standards.
How did this submission come together?
Throughout the design challenge, our UX, Visual Design, Content Strategy, and Development teams collaborated to ensure that the designs presented were human-centered and could be executed successfully on whatever CMS the Department chose to use. Completing this challenge in a fully remote posture presented some obstacles, but the team overcame them through constant communication and a singular focus: creating a human-centered design for the Department and ED.gov visitors.
We applaud the Department for welcoming industry perspective for human-centered design through an open innovation challenge administered through Challenge.gov. This is an exciting step in reimagining the user experience while drawing upon the 21st Century IDEA and the United States Web Design Standards.