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Client Texas Association of School Business Officials
Disciplines Research, Design & Content, Web Development

TASBO: Branding the Business of Public Education

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Public schools don’t just happen. Somebody has to keep the doors open, the lights on, the software updated. When the transmission on a school bus goes kaput, someone makes sure it gets fixed. If a window breaks in the band room, who’s going to replace it? And who’s going to make sure the window replacer gets her paycheck next week?

School business officials, that’s who—the pros who make each of Texas’ 1,031 school districts go. Operations, technology, purchasing, management, finance. They do everything but teach, and yet, students often never know they exist. Behind the scenes, school business officials are the heartbeat of public education.

And the Texas Association of School Business Officials—or TASBO—is their support system. TASBO is a community, a learning resource, and now, a partner of Mighty Citizen.

We’re proud to have helped TASBO transform their digital presence and member experience. Here’s what we did.

The new TASBO website optimized for mobile.

Crafting a Vision

At their best, professional associations are communities. That’s what TASBO wanted their online presence to foster: a real, dynamic, statewide member meeting place.

One of the first questions we ask associations is: “Do you want to grow your membership or sustain it?” We don’t let them answer “both.” Because to be relevant, a website needs a singular aim. Sure, we’ll ultimately build a site that serves both prospective and current members, but we must lean one way or the other (especially on the homepage). If you’re everything to everyone, you’re nothing to anyone.

TASBO decided to emphasize serving their existing membership, because while Texas is a big state, the school business officials community is tight knit. If TASBO made membership an easy, rewarding experience, new members would naturally find their way to TASBO thanks to word-of-mouth. (Besides, 85% of their web traffic comprised current members.)

To serve current members, TASBO wanted their redesigned site to both tell their story—such as how school business is critical to a district’s success—and offer more direct member engagement—such as connecting members to hundreds of educational opportunities every year.

TASBO’s resources and online community now have clean, approachable functionality.

Research & Discovery

Our designs aren’t guesses. Guessing is, at best, a 50/50 proposition.

Instead, we research, we go to the source. Research reveals when our instincts are headed in the right direction and when they’re shortsighted. (If someone offers to design something for you without researching it first, be wary.)

Mighty Citizen pushed us to reconsider what we thought we knew about our members. Their research, combined with their deep experience with associations, revealed things we wouldn’t have otherwise known. Those insights made the final product better.” Rose Grandon, Marketing Manager

First, we talked with TASBO’s marketing and communication teams. They had a lot on their plate—more than simply managing the website. Time was limited. We needed to craft a website content management system (CMS) that was straightforward and scalable.

Second, we dug into Google Analytics and learned that most website visitors were using desktop computers, making the desktop design a priority (while, of course, ensuring the mobile experience was top-notch).

Third, we conducted interviews with eight prospective and current members. From them we learned that, first and foremost, the website should make finding and registering for events a delight. They also emphasized that logging into TASBO Connect, their online member community, needed to be seamless. It didn’t matter how beautiful or usable the new TASBO website was if these two experiences weren’t perfect.

Fourth, we used a usability survey to confirm what the interviews taught us. Hundreds of TASBO members received the survey, and they told us a few things we suspected and a few we hadn’t yet considered:

  • YES, finding and registering for events was confusing
  • NO, the current website didn’t explain everything TABSO does for members
  • YES, what users most wanted from the site was (a) event registration and (b) community interaction
  • NO, they didn’t realize that TASBO offered hundreds of training opportunities across a diverse range of disciplines
This question from the audience survey reveals what drives TABSO members to visit the site.

Website Development

Did we mention TASBO is a busy organization? In addition to the website, TASBO staff had to manage a learning management system (LMS) and event registration software—not to mention their AMS. This made content management tricky: There were too many opportunities for content to grow outdated, inaccurate, or irrelevant before it was caught.

But TASBO is a savvy organization. They understood that the more valuable content they create, the more members they recruit. So our design had to give TASBO options for readily creating, publishing, and managing different types of content.

We used our C.O.P.E. method of design—i.e., Create Once, Publish Everywhere. In essence, C.O.P.E. allows TASBO to enter content into their CMS once and have it appear in different locations and formats across the site. Time, saved.

Single Sign-On

What’s more digitally dreadful than logging into a website? Logging into three websites simply to do one thing. Before we arrived on the scene, TASBO had to oversee a(n):

  • CMS – for publishing event info on the TASBO website
  • LMS – for tracking continuing education details (within iMIS)
  • AMS – for allowing users to manage and track their interactions with TASBO (within iMIS)

We built a single sign-on (SSO) experience, allowing users to access every system after logging in only once.

Design & Content

Everything is content. Everything. Every letter, every photograph, every interaction—everything tells an association’s members, in explicit and subtle ways, what the association thinks about them. If the website is shallow, confusing, or tiresome, members (or worse, potential members) will think the association isn’t taking their needs into account. They’ll feel unseen and they may drift away.

Undergoing a major website redesign is daunting. Mighty Citizen’s creative process organized our ideas and made them a reality. Our story and our members’ stories are front and center—showing clearly the great things we do.” Tom Greer, Director of Communications

Fortunately, TASBO’s team came prepared. They were already creating a ton of content. Our job was to help organize and display it in a way that delighted their members. Here’s what we helped them do:

Enhanced Member Stories & Testimonials

Nothing establishes credibility quicker than a testimonial. And nothing is more engaging than a well-crafted story. So we built page layouts and modules that allow TASBO to constantly let their members speak.

On the homepage, for example, the first thing you see and read is a member sharing their thoughts on TASBO’s impact:

TASBO’s homepage now highlights their value through member stories.

Bite-Sized Legislative News

Nearly half of survey respondents said they use TASBO to learn what legislation will affect their jobs and schools. But unedited, policy information can be…lengthy. TASBO translates legalese into relevant, concrete language their members can easily grasp.

Professional Development

How does a member browse TASBO’s hundreds of live and recorded events? By using a clean category-based interaction:

New category-based interaction makes finding educational opportunities a breeze.

Our research subjects told us that they mostly want to find job-specific trainings, but they occasionally want to search across broad, multi-topic subjects. Now, they can.

The new events filtering system allows members to easily find conferences and other opportunities.

New Member Orientation

We urged TASBO to expand their new member orientation because our persona research suggested that even existing members aren’t aware of everything TASBO offers. The plan is to create videos that describe TASBO’s benefits to ensure new members become long-standing members.

In addition to these design and content enhancements, TASBO is also pursuing other strategic recommendations we offered, including:

  • Integration of online training with events calendar
  • Sponsored advertisement rotation
  • Integration of online community across the main website
  • Enhanced visualization of spreadsheet data
  • Adding topics and categories to TASBO’s blog
  • Orientation and entry points based on audience types
  • Expanded exhibitor and vendor information

The Business of Schools is in Good Hands

Now, the new TASBO website is all about their members. We listened to them, and then we built what they wanted: an intuitive, easy, usable, beautiful, and intriguing online community. We’re proud to have lent a hand to the professionals who keep Texas’ tens of thousands of schools going.

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