Reinforcing a Lasting Partnership with a Refresh of KIDS COUNT Data Center
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (“Casey”) is a longstanding independent philanthropy dedicated to helping children and young people succeed. The KIDS COUNT Data Center has long been a cornerstone offering for Casey. Through the years, it has grown to include a wealth of data and insights about children and families and is the premier source of data on children, youth and families. By providing this information, Casey seeks to enrich local, state and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children — and to raise the visibility of children's issues through a nonpartisan, evidence-based lens.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation was Velir’s first ever client all the way back in 2000. In 2012 we helped launch the first iteration of the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which we still maintain and support to this day. So when the Casey digital team needed to refresh the look and feel of its KIDS COUNT Data Center website, we were the perfect fit for the job.
In early 2022, Casey was rolling out a new brand. The KIDS COUNT Data Center website was one of the digital properties that needed to be updated according to the new brand guidelines to maintain consistency throughout the audience experience. The Data Center site felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the Casey organization and Casey reached out to Velir to help with the site refresh and to make it more integrated with the broader ecosystem.
The refresh project not only gave Casey a chance to refresh the site look and feel, but also served as an opportunity to rethink and evolve other aspects of the site for enhancement. In addition to updating the look and feel based on the new brand guidelines, this was an opportunity to provide users with more context about collected data, and to address other pain points that stakeholders and users were experiencing with content authoring and site usability.
Casey’s challenges included:
- Contemporizing the look and feel of Data Center to match Casey’s new brand guidelines
- Improving context-setting for visitors not familiar with Data Center’s role in Casey’s overall mission
- Addressing pain points that Casey stakeholders and users had with the existing website
- Making Data Center feel more connected to the primary Casey website
We held a series of Discovery activities to identify and prioritize site improvements. We met with Casey stakeholders and members of their SEO and analytics agencies to align on goals, audiences, and opportunities. We also did usability testing to understand how users were navigating between indicators and consuming data on Data Center, as well as how users of Data Center could cross-over to content from the primary Casey site.
Findings from Discovery activities were summarized in our Business Requirements documentation and a Discovery readout deck. We used these outputs to validate and prioritize the site improvements we needed to make for the refresh.
After aligning with Casey stakeholders on Discovery recommendations, we moved to our Design phase. We created wireframes and designs of all key pages and wrote functional specifications outlining the features we would build for the refresh.
During the Build phase we rebuilt the site based on the agreed upon designs and functional specifications.
Our approach included:
- Conducting a series of Discovery activities to identify targeted areas of improvement for the refresh
- Creating wireframes, designs, and functional specifications based on findings from Discovery
- Building the refreshed site based on designs and functional specifications from Design
We launched the refreshed KIDS COUNT Data Center site in April of 2023. The Casey team felt that we accomplished the goals of the project – namely giving the site a more modern look & feel that aligned with their new brand guidelines, improving on the most notable usability challenges, and integrating seamlessly with the primary Casey site.
We also rolled out several key new features, including an interactive map that lets users quickly find state-level data and a blog feed that automatically displays a subset of Casey blog posts relevant to the Data Center.
During the post-launch period, we’ve continued to work with the Casey team content authoring improvements, bug fixes, and ongoing site enhancements. We feel that the current version of the site is positioned for long-term success as a destination for of data and insights about children and families.
- Refreshed the entire Data Center site based on the new Casey brand guidelines
- Rolled out new features, including an interactive map and an automated blog post feed
- Installed a global navigation that lets users easily navigate between Data Center and the primary Casey website