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.”

Challenge

InsideSchools’ Guided Search tool aggregates data from 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. Despite the utility of the search tool, by 2015 the site’s design was starting to feel dated, the site was not responsive and, as InsideSchools’ audience grew and became more diverse, the site was no longer adequately serving their needs.

Solution

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, while a few pages’ content is managed through Contentful, a cloud-based CMS. 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.

Impact + Highlights

  • 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.
  • Some of the datasets featured in the Guided Search are pulled in dynamically, or “scraped,” from the NYC Department of Education and the New York State Education Department databases, making the site more accurate and easier to update for InsideSchools’ staff.
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