Parent Portal

Information Architecture Redesign

Seattle Country Day School is a private school teaching students from Grade K to Grade 8. The school website provides a Parent Portal that enables parents to access information about their kids such as children’s activities, lunch menu, school calendar, registration forms, and payment invoice for all kinds of fees.

Duration 1 year
Role UX Volunteer
Tasks User Research, Usability Study, IA Redesign
Team Jina Suh / Nick Alvey / Yuan Zhuang / Hong Zhu /Danning Zhang
Result New Information Architecture


How can we help parents at SCDS find out their kids’ activities, classes, and other relevant information easily in Parent Portal?

Project Drive

Many parents complained that the parent portal was so confusing that they couldn’t find what they needed unless asking help from school staff. The administration office was receiving lots of calls from parents with inquiry of things that had already been posted on the parent portal.

The goals of Parent Portal

Current Information Channels & Effectiveness

To figure out how parent portal functions as one of the information channels, we studied how parents got information and how they felt about those channels. We interviewed 7 parents whose kids were in different grades in the school and had used the parent portal. Among these channels, Email and Parent Portal were the most popular ones. Parents preferred the Email channel because the Emails sent by SCDS contained selected information with relevant links in Parent Portal. Parents could easily access information by clicking on a link. Though the Parent Portal provided the most thorough information, the navigation was too confusing to motivate parents to explore around.

Pain Points

No.1 Confusing Navigation.

Among 30 survey participants: 43% mentioned navigation difficulties while 20% mentioned issues with specific features.

***Previous Navigation***

No.2 Overwhelming Content.

With so much information in front, parents felt overwhelmed and expected a cleaner, more organized structure of information. We asked the survey participants to prioritize several main features using points from 1 to 5:
5: Essential, 4: High priority, 3: Medium priority, 2: Low priority, 1: Not a priority

Adhoc Persona

Based on previous research, we had a clear picture of how our users look like. But with limited access to the target users, we did not dive deeper in demographic information. Intead, we used the Adhoc persona creation process(created by Tamara Adlin) and came up with 3 personas.

Card Sorting

To find out user needs, we did a card sorting on Optimalworkshop for user activities. We created 41 cards, incorporated 31 responses after cleaning, and got average 13 groups of information.

With the help of similarity matrix and dendrogram, we reorganized and prioritized the content in Parent Portal. To prompt users to access information about their children, we put content related to Parents’ kids under My Child group. Other content was organized by Topic and Frequency of visiting.

Tree Test

Using the suggested sitemap, we wondered whether users can figure out the navigation. So we recruited 46 parents to do a tree test with 11 tasks on OptimalSort. The successful rate was 67%. Within these tasks we found there were three tasks turned out to be very hard to completed: Share and/or access school news. Find out how you can carpool with another family. Find out what time you should pick up your child.

Adjustments and Final Result

We renamed certain tabs in a clearer way and fleshed out a detailed information architecture. The school staff adopted our information architecture and updated the Parent Portal navigation according to the final solution.