Hawaii Department of Education

Building Trust. Transforming Education.

Empowering scholastic success for generations of public school students.

What we did

Redesigned and built their website on a new content management system:

  • Researched audience needs through one-on-one interviews and focus groups comprising parents,  teachers, students, media, and partners
  • Developed the site on the SharePoint 2013 CMS platform
  • Developed extensive stakeholder personas to enable a shared understanding of key audiences
  • Created a strategic communications plan focused on shaping audience perceptions and opinions of HIDOE
  • Developed an audience perception survey instrument to measure and track program effectiveness over time

Check out our work, visit www.Hawaiipublicschools.org

The work

The state of Hawaii is engaged in a historic effort to transform its public education system, encourage lifelong learning, and ensure students’ success in college or careers.

In order to turn this around, HIDOE began rebuilding its educational processes, from top to bottom, with the support of a multimillion-dollar Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. A critical component of HIDOE’s turnaround strategy was to dramatically improve its overall engagement with the community and key stakeholder groups. This is where SMITH entered the picture.

SMITH performed a needs/wants/beliefs assessment across a wide range of internal and external audiences, including teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and students. Through this extensive research, and in close partnership with the HIDOE communications team, SMITH was able to develop a clear understanding of audience mindsets, beliefs about public education and what, if anything, HIDOE might do to convince them that things were improving. 

With the foundational research complete, SMITH then translated research findings into highly emotive personas in order to ensure a shared understanding of these audience insights. From there, the team authored a strategic communications plan and tactical roadmap, which served as the platform for launching the web design and development efforts and provided the institution with a set of grassroots and social components that could help support and build positive momentum for HIDOE’s overall efforts.

Blazing a New Trail

The site’s official launch culminated a roughly 14-month effort that involved extensive research, user persona development, strategic communications planning, and visual design, development, testing, and training—not to mention working all the way through in lock-step with the HIDOE team.

The design and development process proved to be both a learning experience and an opportunity to pioneer a new way of building a site. Hawaiipublicschools.org was built on Microsoft’s SharePoint 2013 content management platform, which invites HIDOE staff to publish updates with ease. SMITH embraced the latest platform right out of the gate to create a first-rate experience that performs flawlessly, seamlessly, and brilliantly.

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