City Year

A new website for those up to the task of creating a better tomorrow


City Year is a program where high school graduates enroll to be AmeriCorps members for a gap year working in underserved cities' schools before going to college. Our team was tasked with redesigning the City Year website to do a better job of guiding, educating, and preparing prospective AmeriCorps members. 


Evolving the Brand

Content Strategy

Website Redesign & Replatform


UX Lead
Finalizing UI & Animation


City Year

Design approach

I joined this project right at the conclusion of discovery. The insights and content strategy showed that prospects needed more in-depth guidance and expectation-setting. These 18–25-year-olds are considering moving across the country for a year to teach in a difficult classroom situation; we wanted to allow for a more comprehensive, intuitive, and engaging research session to prepare for that pivotal decision. 

We focused on key pages that prospects would look to in order to learn about the year that might be ahead of them, and ensured that the pages could elaborate and explain properly without overwhelming the user with long-form content. Our team developed 12 sets of page template wireframes and designs, as well as a library of modules contained within those templates.


A modular system

In addition to the 12 full-page wireframes, I created 22 Page Builder modules for use on the rest of the website. For each module I created, we provided documentation for both internal developers (extremely detailed) and client handoff (shown here, less detailed). Both sets included required or optional fields, character counts (enforced and recommended), ways to populate content, and all possible variants of a module.

This exercise was a close collaboration with teammate and fellow designer Karen Doyle as well as several of the developers on our team, and ultimately enabled over 100 content creators at City Year to populate the new site.


Unifying 29 City Year locations

When we started this process, many of City Year's 29 locations had created their own separate web presence using a third-party website builder. Part of our task was to bring these sites back together under one roof—without confusing the user as to where they were within the site, and without restricting the local sites so much that they reverted back to their own web properties.

To solve this, we created a multi-page subnavigation, identical for each of the 29 locations. We also added a "quick link" feature so that once a user navigates to a location's subsection of the website, that City Year location will appear in the utility navigation.


Finding prospects up to the task

Perhaps our largest task was to find prospects who were better prepared for the year ahead of them. Our strategy and creative all needed to be grounded in reality (in the sometimes very difficult reality) of helping students with unknown home situations in underserved communities. Teaching in an underprivileged school is not a task for the weak of heart or for anyone looking for an easy resume builder; we needed to find truly dedicated individuals.

To accomplish this, we created two different interactive quizzes—one to help a prospective recruit think through the soft skills that they would need to succeed in this type of environment, and another to help an applicant make sure they were eligible for the program before going through the application.


Did it work? Did our new website help lower attrition rates among City Year AmeriCorps members? Well, it's hard to say with Covid-19 greatly affecting City Year programming nationwide. But we do have some good news:

  • 100+ City Year local site administrators across the country empowered to enter content in a singular system, following a singular content strategy
  • Positive responses from City Year admissions regarding quality of applications
  • At least one applicant cited the website as a reason they felt confident applying