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First impressions are always important

By Tomas Silva

An excellent design should make us feel something. Invoke an emotional response... Trust, happiness, excitement. Something more than aesthetics.

The decision to revamp the school’s look and feel from scratch was a no-brainer. To create a fresh new identity, simple and colorful, aiming not only to connect the parents with the school programs but also get the tech savvy ‘Generation Z’ on board. The new website will offer a fun, intuitive and consistent online user experience, including an interactive school events calendar, weekly quizzes, online shopping for school merchandise and the ability to submit forms for extra curricular courses and events.

One of the new features that most excites me is the creation of a blog style microsite for each of the school’s classes that would provide daily and/or weekly class and student updates, allowing parents to access these features via a security password, accessible at anytime from anywhere. For the first time, you will be able to log in and learn about what is going on in your child’s day at school.

New York City’s Central Park Pale Male

A thoughtfully designed mascot can successfully foster and build pride and unity among the student population. By focusing on the positive behavioral features and attributes displayed by the mascot, children's energy can be channeled towards achieving the goals and objectives set by the school.

I pitched the idea to an illustrator friend of mine, Giles Macleay, a taletend artist based in the UK, to help me develop the school’s mascot along with the new PS 6 overall look and feel, including the school’s new logo and print items.

We have created a mascot and its friends based on the school’s connection with the red-tailed hawk, ‘Pale Male’, who has resided since the 1990s near New York City’s Central Park. Part of the strategy is to connect the kids with the school’s new website by creating online campaigns such as ‘give our mascot a name’, ‘weekly quizzes’ and showcasing new pieces of merchandise available, such as backpacks, water bottles, t-shirts, books and toys, to name a few. All funds collected will be managed by the PTA.

The project is currently under development, the school’s re-branding is in its final milestone along with the creation of the mascot and collateral items.

The design process and the team behind it

In web design, compatibility doesn’t refer to an absolute balance between aesthetics and usability, but rather a product that functions well under any conditions and is flawlessly beautiful whether it is opened on a phone, tablet or desktop. So, designing responsive websites is the key to success and mobile design was at the top of my priorities’ list. Two thirds of PS 6’s users are viewing the site from a cellphone which also reflects the same trend in more than half of Google’s traffic. A mobile design needs to be simple, intuitively navigated, adaptive, and easily adjustable.

To kick off the project, I headed to the school to gather the team and establish the foundation of the project, consulting key influencers, such as school staff, teachers, volunteers, parents and students.

Once the initial planning phase and project brief was finalized, the next task was to compile an external team that would be helping me in order to move from just an initial idea to an actual tangible product.

Behind the development is a team of programmers. Though PS 6 is a non-profit, they have been very supportive of our school and have helped us tremendously, developing the school’s new website, online newsletter and the CRM platform. 

I am very grateful for this talented team, all working free of charge and dedicating solid hours to this project.

I hope you enjoy what you are seeing so far. We will keep you posted on the development of our new website.