Peer Review: thechalkboard.ca

The Chalkboard is a site dedicated to sharing educational resources to ensure that “no child is left behind”.

Overview

Landing on the site, I am right away greeted with an image of different colored chalks, establishing a cohesive theme with the site’s name. The use of colors and background image also adheres to such theme.

On the home page, there is a powerful video depicting what goes on in children’s minds in response to some teachers’ comments.

In addition, The Chalkboard has a dedicated section for visitors to share their learning resources, transforming the site from being just an informational site to a collaborative community helping children learn.

Overall, The Chalkboard creates a familiar atmosphere through the careful design choices and friendly tones used in the contents.

Social

There is a complementary Twitter page for The Chalkboard. The content posted on Twitter are on-brand, helpful and always relevant. Most importantly, most of the contents are quite engaging with clear call-to-actions (and tracked links).

Aside from the Twitter page, which appears to be used mainly for outreach, there is also an impressive Pinterest collection of images and other resources that help carry out the goal of the website.

Design

The Chalkboard uses a combination of colors and images to resemble a chalkboard teachers would use to teach students. It creates a nice metaphor by putting useful educational resources onto the chalkboard. That said, there are a few points of improvements that could make The Chalkboard even more accessible and comprehensible.

  1. Reduce the number of header navigation links to reduce distraction for the visitors
  2. Shorten the header image of colored chalks to allow visitors to make sense of the site right after landing
  3. Make the heading “To share resources for educators working with students who learn differently” stand out and immediately
  4. Introduce a higher-contrast color scheme to accommodate children with learning disabilities
  5. Allocate more space for contents in the center, instead of cramming most of it in the sidebar

I’d like to think about a website/landing page as a story: you want your story heard while adding value to whoever is listening. You wouldn’t want to throw all the information at your listener at once in the very beginning. Instead, you want to lead the listener with a breadcrumb trail of information that intrigues them into wanting to know more.

This is exactly why I’m suggesting to shrink the header image and place your heading front and center: it establishes what this site is about—the background information—right away when visitors land on the site. With a bit of clear and concise copywriting, the visitors would be intrigued enough to start scrolling down and learning more.

Most often than not (don’t quote me on this, my design prof told me this), white text on dark background hurts readability. There are other subtler ways of creating the chalkboard metaphor without making the entire background black.

Lastly, the links in the footer are not the most accessible. They all have the same star icon and no label. It would be great if those are converted into either text links or text links with icons on the side.

I’ve created a quick mockup to show you the points I mentioned above:

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