Oregon Coast Aquarium: A Vastly Educational Oceanscape Network

A new site to inspire youth to better understand, cherish, and conserve nature by connecting them to a network of educators and peers.
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Going Above and Beyond

Learn how we partnered with this non-profit to build a bridge to their youth community and reach a new demographic.

Client
Oregon Coast Aquarium
Industry
Wildlife
Skills Provided
Strategy Workshop, Interaction Design, HTML5 Development, Ruby on Rails Development, Rails App Maintenance

The Challenge

The Oregon Coast Aquarium saw a unique opportunity to engage youth in exploring the natural world in a new online application: Oceanscape Network. Part resource, homework tool, and experiential app, the Oceanscape Network aims to connect kids and teenagers to science and nature. (Think encyclopedia of all things ocean.) But developing this comprehensive site was no small undertaking.

To make it a true network, we needed to create an application that would enable functionality for three main site users. These include teachers managing their classes, youth completing a scientific inquiry through the network, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium staff.

The Process

We started our design strategy by identifying personas and mapping the goals of the project. While the Aquarium had its own visual designer, we informed the interaction design stage with wireframes of the network’s public and private sites.

To manage all the content, we also created a custom content management system (CMS) tool for network admins. This gave them almost complete control of the dynamic information. They were able to upload copy, images, videos, slideshows, and promos to the entire site. Once the visual designs came back, our team coded the front-end part and linked it all to the back-end.

The Result

The public site is now filled with rich content that allows for easy exploration of all the natural inhabitants of the land and sea. The Explore and Experience encyclopedic pages inspire youth to investigate and report on their own through special landmarks to visit, activities to join, and tools to share stories and photos. Through Educate, the private student/teacher area of the site, teachers can organize content and encourage students to walk through a scientific inquiry. The site gives step-by-step instructions along the way.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium staff now also has an easy tool and platform to add content. This has allowed them to engage youth to explore nature and visit landmark places on the Oregon Coast.

Marsh Meyers photo
Most of the other firms we approached, did not seem to care as much about understanding the vision of Oceanscape as they did in building a website. But this was never intended to be just another website. It has a specific purpose and a specific role to fill in Oregon... and that required a great eye on detail and excellent craftsmanship. [The Discovery workshop] got our staff thinking a little more like web designers, I think. In other words, we got into a mindset closer to yours as you got into a mindset closer to ours.

Marsh Meyers

Education Manager

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