Theodore Kimble

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Write to Theodore Kimble at mail@theodorekimble.com

The Next NEXT.cc

Ruby on Rails 3.x

NEXT.cc is an educational nonprofit that creates interactive online Journeys to introduce what design is, what design does, and why design is important to children of all ages. But the existing web site was difficult to navigate and even harder to administer — over 100 Journeys existed as more than 300 individual HTML files — requiring significant time for even the smallest site-wide changes. The new version of the site has been developed as a Ruby on Rails web application to reduce these administrative pains. Further, a custom content management system was developed to allow NEXT staffers to easily create and update content from any web browser — no longer is it necessary to train staffers to write and maintain all of the individual HTML files.

Working with the NEXT.cc team, three key features were added to the design of the public-facing site to improve its usability and experience. The splash screen that previously greeted visitors to the site has been removed and a comprehensive listing of all Journeys is now front and center. But if that comprehensive listing is too broad, users can, for the first time, easily filter the list of Journeys by NEXT.cc's recognizable Scales and Subjects. Each individual Journey page — previously split into three or more pages — is now a single continuous page, reducing the friction required to progress through it.

Behind the scenes, the management section of the site allows NEXT.cc staffers to easily create and update content from any web browser without the need for any coding experience. The design of the management section began from the bottom-up with the necessary HTML documents and forms for creating, updating, and deleting different kinds of database collections and then applied the logical divisions of the public-facing design to create a more recognizable, intuitive and usable experience for its users.