InsideSchools is a New York City-based nonprofit whose mission is to improve schools for every child in the city, while providing parents, guardians, and students with school data that is as up-to-date, comprehensive, and unbiased as possible. Since it was founded in 2002 as a project of the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, InsideSchools has been hailed as “the single most reliable source of independent information on New York City public schools.”
InsideSchools’ Guided Search tool, a prominent feature on their website, aggregates data from all of the more than 1,800 NYC Public Schools, and makes it searchable so that New Yorkers can find out everything they need to know about the schools in their district. InsideSchools’ data comes from statistics and surveys compiled by the NYC Department of Education and the New York State Education Department, as well as from data gleaned by the InsideSchools’ staff during their regular school visits. Despite the utility of the search tool, by 2015 the site’s design was starting to feel dated, so InsideSchools partnered with Radish Lab to help it reach its full potential.
One of our main goals for this project was to make the site more usable, which can be difficult when a site is as data-heavy as InsideSchools’. In order to do so, we upgraded insideschools.org from Joomla to a database built using Ruby on Rails. We partnered with Contentful, a cloud-based CMS provider based in Berlin, to manage content on many of the site’s pages. Contentful generously offered its service as part of a special sponsorship for non-profit projects.
On the front end, Radish’s UX design team developed new search parameters that get to the heart of the needs of New York’s parents and students, such as, how far they are willing to travel, what curricular programs they are interested in, and how selective admissions are for each school. The improved Guided Search tool, along with many other subtle interactions throughout the site, help to make exploring the site a more well-rounded and intuitive experience for InsideSchools’ audiences.
Every day we witness the impact of educational inequity in our city, and each one of us is passionate about driving social change to resolve that disparity. It was an honor to partner with the InsideSchools team, and to help them continue to meet their mission with a beautiful new website.