The University of Texas at Austin

Texas OnCourse

Resource by Grade Level Resource by Topic Reports

How do you convince a 14-year-old middle schooler to begin planning for his postsecondary education? Where can a high-school senior go to learn about career training after she graduates?

Texas OnCourse has an idea.

Launched by the state legislature in 2015 and housed at The University of Texas, Texas OnCourse aims to get more Texas students into college or career training after high school by offering them, their parents, and their teachers and counselors a single, online hub of helpful resources.

TradeMark Media was honored to help design, develop, and launch the inaugural version of the Texas OnCourse website.

Two Key Audiences, One Website

Right away, our strategists and architects figured out that Texas OnCourse speaks to two key, but unique, audiences: families and educators.

Further complicating matters is that Texas OnCourse wants to serve Texas students from 7th through 12th grades—an enormous range, especially in teenage years.

We decided to take users down two separate paths from the homepage: Parents and students get one experience; teachers and career advisors get another.

Then, within each group’s section of the website, content and language has been adjusted to speak more directly to their needs and challenges.

An Explicit Plan

We’re allergic to ambiguity.

When it comes to Web design, we think being obscure, subtle, or cute is a surefire way to irritate (and thus lose) your users. Much better, we believe, to be obvious and direct—both with architecture and content.

That’s why Texas OnCourse boasts an explicit, grade-by-grade listing of resources—as well as a complete resource listing by topic. In an instant, users can find themselves in the content.

Animation

We have some animation geeks at TradeMark, and this was a great project to flex our animation muscles a bit in order to enhance the user experience.

As users scroll through the website, content animates in order to draw the user’s eye to critical information. We were careful to avoid “animation for animation’s sake.” Instead, we used it lightly but strategically. It lends the site a more sophisticated feel without sacrificing usability, even on mobile.

The Chat Box

This is unique: There’s a section on the homepage where users see an animated “chat” taking place—similar to a back-and-forth text message conversation. This content is pulled directly from Texas OnCourse’s “Question of the Day” fields in their CMS:

This feature is a dynamic, completely customizable, and visually engaging way to offer practical, quick tips to users without asking anything of them.

The Verdict

Texas OnCourse is a new endeavor.

Wisely, they’ve decided to treat their website as an iterative project. We launched a simple version of the site, followed two months later by a more sophisticated, content-rich version.

As time goes on—and as Texas OnCourse’s experts generate new ideas—we’ll be standing by, ready to bring their mission to life.

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