Year Up Website Design

By James Kwon

The Challenge

Year Up is a national non-profit with that helps “low-income young adults go from poverty to professional careers in a single year.” With 11 locations across the country and an aging website, content updates were a challenge. Our goals were to eliminate duplicate data entry to save the client time, create an approval system to manage location updates, and inspire visitors with student stories.

The Design Solution

It all started with identifying the target audiences: Students, Employers, and Contributors (Donors, Mentors, Volunteers). “We tackled the content challenge by making it easily digestible and scannable, with accordions users can drill down into,” reflects our Art Director, Marissa Epstein.

From here, we created a sitemap and navigation strategy. This allowed us to visually organize content and page templates. With the plan in place, we sketched page layouts in wireframes.

One of the most unique sections of the website was the student stories page: an interactive mosaic that showcases the triumphs of Year Up students.

“The way we designed it gave the user plenty to choose from, but if he/she wanted to explore further, they could without any difficulty.” said Mike Camera, Designer. He continued, “The stories page is definitely something we’re proud of because a lot went into it as far as the design and how it was structured. In the end I think that we were able to give the user plenty of stories to choose from without feeling overwhelmed.”

The Development Solution

The solution was to create a custom website built on WordPress. We implemented location specific content so that certain queues would populate the website with content specific to the visitor’s city of interest. This was particularly useful to dynamically view location specific applications and staff. Of course, users always have the option of switching back to the corporate view or another location. Advanced custom post types allowed Year Up staff to edit content on the website with knowledge of computer programming. They also saved time – on the old website they needed to update contact information on several pages when a staff member joined or changed position. Now, this is managed in one location and automatically updated throughout the website.

Scaling For Heavy Traffic and National Media

On the server side, we implemented browser caching to increase site speed and a load balancer to scale for the heavy traffic load when Year Up was featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes. With Figmints’ managed hosting accounts on Rackspace, we can split traffic between multiple servers to mitigate a high volume traffic events.

Client Testimonial

“I can’t thank you guys enough for the excellent work on the yearup.org website. We are thrilled to see it go live and we’re getting great feedback from YU staff. This is a whole new level for us and it will have a big impact on our ability to grow Year Up. Thank you all so, so much for making it happen.” – Daisy Morin, Marketing Manager, Year Up.