617-852-8487 marlene@mpcook.com

Children’s Music School Website Redesign

Disclaimer

This information is provided with the permission of the client. To prevent this page from being included in search results, I have hidden it from search engines by using a noindex tag. I refer to them as SVWNY to further prevent indexing.

The Client

SVWNY is a children’s music school. It offers music lessons for toddlers through teenagers using the Suzuki Method. The business owner compiled a ton of great content on her site, but it needed Information Architecture and User Centered Design to drive potential customers to a key sales information. Organizing information for parents and students and giving the business owner a way to communitcate with families and the community were also important.

My Role 

My task was to redesign the site and rebuild it in WordPress.

Goals

The goals of the redesign were standard for a website:

  • Arrange the information into a coherent information architecture that allows visitors to find what they need
  • Give it a more welcoming visual design that gives visitors a sense of belonging and safety
  • Drive potential customers to key sales information.

User Research

The main user groups were families already enrolled and potential customers. The business owner and the school itself were a tertiary group.

The needs of enrolled families were very predictable. They wanted the practical info related to their child’s lessons: homework, schedules, lesson plans, etc. The business owner already had a good sense of this based on emails, phone calls and discussions with parents. I confirmed her suspicions through interviews with two parents.

Potential customers were harder to research. The budget did not allow for recruiting people through an agency. I was able to interview several friends with children to see what they look for when researching music lessons and other activities for their kids. Interviewing current families revealed important details about what sold them on the school.

The business owner obviously wanted to sell her services but she also wanted to communicate with parents and students to cut down on emails and phone calls about lessons. She also wanted to build a reputation in the Suzuki community and the local area.

Personas and the Customer Decision Journey

Personas were most important for potential customers as they were least understood. They fell into three categories: people already familiar with the Suzuki Method, parents who were music enthusiasts themselves but didn’t know about Suzuki and parents who had no music knowledge. To illustrate the difference between selling to the different groups, I combined the personas with a “Customer Decision Journey” to illustrate that each group began at a mental place along in their buying process. 

These personas informed later digital marketing work as well.

Information Architecture

To catalog and re-organize the info on the site, I used a card sort with Post It notes and the Post it Note app on a tablet. Every piece of information on the current site went on a post it note and I sorted them into categories.

The information easily fell into three general categories: Info designed to sell the school to new parents, info for current students and a treasure trove of miscellaneous info (video and photos from concerts & recitals, online music resources, local music events, etc.) that could be relevant to current families as well as potential customers. Some of this information also served to build the school’s reputation in the Suzuki community and the local area.

I organized the info into three sections. The “sales” info became the Main Menu. The info for current families went into a password protected “student portal.”  Finally, I used the blogging structure of WordPress to organize the miscellaneous information. This allows the business owner to keep building up this resource, but post categories and tags keep it organized. The blog posts are accessible through a section on the main menu called “Notes.”

Wireframes

Initially, I created a wire frame just for the home page and a sample sub-page. The goal was to prompt the business owner to think about her site in a different way. After that, it was most efficient to design as I built pages in WordPress.

Challenges

Like many websites, multiple interests competed for attention on the home page. In this case, it was the need to communicate with current families (snow closings, schedules, etc.) vs the need to sell the studio to potential families. Although we included a password-protected student portal for current families, we found that they still expected to see urgent information such as snow closings on the home page.

I compromised by posting the schedule next to hero slider at the top of the home page. Although full-width hero images are in vogue, in this case, following that approach would have sacrificed the practical needs of the users and business owner. We also felt that the tangible details of the music lessons offered could be informative for potential families. I added a temporary banner for snow closings that can be turned off when the school re-opens.

Visual Design

I also worked with the business owner to create a simple, yet appealing visual design. I’m not a visual designer, but can create simple interfaces when budgets don’t allow for a more professional approach. In this case it worked.

We settled on a light blue color scheme with green and yellow highlights.  Blue is associated with warmth, calm, tranquility and understanding. I hired a logo designer on fiverr.com and integrated the new logo into the site.

Personas

Customer Decision Journey

Card Sort of Current Content

Home Page Wireframe