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ED.gov Redesign Challenge
Seeking creative web design prototypes for ED.gov that utilize innovations in layout, typography, animation, illustration, video, and photography.
Department of Education
Type of Challenge: Creative (multimedia & design)
Submission Start: 03/31/2020 07:00 AM ET
Submission End: 06/15/2020 05:00 PM ET
To improve service to and communication with stakeholders and the general public, the Department of Education (“ED” or “Department”) plans to modernize its public facing website. Accordingly, ED is seeking interactive prototypes for a redesign of ED.gov, the Department’s homepage.
The Department is not seeking a run-of-the-mill refresh but rather a creative redesign that maximizes user experience and proposes new innovations in layout, typography, animation, illustration, video and photography, and other modern advances.
About the Department of Education
ED is the agency of the federal government that establishes policy for, administers, and coordinates most federal assistance to education. The Department assists the president in executing his education policies for the nation and in implementing laws enacted by Congress. ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.
Although ED is a relative newcomer among Cabinet-level agencies, its origins go back to 1867, when President Andrew Johnson signed legislation creating the first Department of Education. Its main purpose was to collect information and statistics about the nation’s schools. However, due to concern that ED would exercise too much control over local schools, the new Department was demoted to an Office of Education in 1868.
Over the years, the office remained relatively small, operating under different titles and housed in various agencies, including the U.S. Department of the Interior and the former U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services).
The Current State of ED.gov
To achieve its goals and further its mission, ED maintains open communication with the general public, especially those seeking information on behalf of their states, districts, schools, and children. That’s why the organization must keep pace with the way 21st century Americans learn, engage, and interact. With 312 million internet users in the United States alone – and 90 percent of American adults reporting using the internet “at least occasionally” – it is essential to maintain a strong web presence. A key component of that effort is redesigning ED’s website.
ED.gov is the Department’s main public-facing website, with nearly 15 million users accessing the site in 2019. These users represented: students and parents; press; educators and administrators; state and local officials; non-profit stakeholders; representatives from community organizations; and advocates, among others. The site’s most-visited pages included information about student loan and grant programs, and laws – like the Freedom of Information Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The Department’s web presence includes several subdomains: www.ED.gov, www2.ed.gov, blog.ed.gov, and sites.ed.gov. ED.gov is managed with the open-source Drupal, WordPress and TeamSite content management systems (CMS) and is hosted externally in a cloud environment.
Limitations and Challenges of Current Design
Nearly 40 percent of people will stop engaging with a website if the design is unattractive, and nearly half of users cite design as the number one factor in assessing credibility. Design plays a critical role in ensuring the public has access to, and engages with, the content on ED.gov.
The last large-scale update of ED.gov occurred in 2015. At that time, ED analyzed available data to determine what pages most users were accessing and redesigned the homepage to fit the public’s evolving needs. This redesign reduced the number of homepage links and created more open space, so the page became more easily navigable to the end user. The update also meant that the entire flagship site offered a mobile-friendly experience, with all content layouts using responsive design.
While the update included several important changes, the design fell short in key areas. Customers find it challenging to quickly locate information that meets their needs. The current site:
- Remains difficult to navigate;
- Does not incorporate the latest functionality that enhances the user experience;
- Relies too heavily on text;
- Is antiquated; and
- Does not have a consistent brand, look, or feel.
Goals for a Redesigned ED.gov
The goal for this Challenge is to improve the overall quality of the design, navigation, interactivity, and presentation of ED.gov.
The challenge is for design prototypes only. The design prototypes received will be used to inform the development of requirements for a future acquisition for the rebuild of ED.gov. This challenge is not intended to lead to a follow-on acquisition but rather is a form of market research. Still, applicants are allowed to compete for the implementation contract following the prototype submission, even if their submission was not chosen for the redesign challenge. The two processes are independent of each other (see more details below).
ED’s website is a content and information hub. Redesign innovators should focus on that foundation. In the improved design, ED.gov should have:
- Accessible content for desktop, mobile, and tablet users;
- Integrated social media, RSS feeds, and subscription services;
- Elegant, clean, simple, user-centered look and feel with a modern aesthetic;
- Strong ED branding on the homepage, and throughout the entire site with a consistent appearance;
- New and innovative tools that enhance user experience; and
- Engaging and easy-to-navigate pages.
The redesign of ED.gov should engage the American public, amplify the Secretary’s message, and advance ED’s policy goals, while maintaining high availability and high performance.
Innovators should ensure to the greatest extent practicable that any design supports the federally mandated 21st Century Idea Act for modernization, including complying with the following:
- Be accessible to individuals with disabilities by applying section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Uses the US Web Design System maturity model to create and implement the site.
- Have a consistent appearance.
- Contain a search function intended for public use.
- Be provided through an industry-standard, secure connection.
- Be fully functional and usable on common mobile devices.
In redesigning ED.gov, Challenge participants should focus on six (6) key templates:
- Homepage (http://www.ed.gov);
- Program office page (https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/om/fs_po/ocr/home.html?src=oc)
- Informational page (https://www2.ed.gov/fund/grants-college.html?src=pn);
- Grant page (https://www2.ed.gov/programs/fws/index.html);
- Contact page (https://www2.ed.gov/about/contacts/gen/index.html?src=ft); and
- News page (http://www.ed.gov/news).
The prototype must also comply with the following directives:
- New designs should conform with ED’s existing color scheme and use its current seal.
- New designs must not use proprietary software or operating systems unless necessary.
- The site should use either the Drupal and/or WordPress open-source CMS for web or content creation and for managing information or content on a webpage.
Prototypes may incorporate text and content already available on the website, or dummy text.
To meet the need of this challenge, participants should provide a link to an interactive prototype of an ED.gov redesign for the above six pages. In addition, participants should provide back-up documentation for the prototype that includes:
- Wireframes that present the site layout and navigation.
- Mock-ups that include the layout and navigation from the wireframes but with brand and site colors, logo, images, content blocks, typography, etc.
Other information such as open-source CMS used, development language(s), browser(s) supported, mobile compatibility, screen resolutions (including responsive for mobile), operating systems, assistive technologies, text sizing, etc.
The Department of Education is offering a total prize pot of up to $50,000. The entirety of the prize may go to one winner or may be split between multiple winners, if the panel determines multiple winners are warranted. Up to three prize winners may be selected from the submissions, including a Grand Prize, a Runner Up, and an Honorable Mention.
At the Department’s discretion, to assist with selecting winners, one or more of the most highly rated challenge participants may be invited to present a live demonstration of their ED.gov redesign prototype before agency subject matter experts, including Office of the Chief Information Officer staff, website owners, or segment owners.
Any potential prizes awarded under this Challenge will be paid by electronic funds transfer. Winners will be required to complete and return an Automated Clearing House (ACH) Vendor/Miscellaneous Payment Enrollment Form to ED within a given timeframe. The form collects banking information needed to make an electronic payment (direct deposit) to the winner. Award recipients will be responsible for any applicable local, state, and federal taxes and reporting that may be required under applicable tax laws.
Terms and Conditions
All entry information submitted to email@example.com and all materials, including any copy of the submission, become property of the Department and will not be returned. Furthermore, the Department shall have no liability for any submission that is lost, intercepted, or not received by the Department. The Department assumes no liability or responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, theft, destruction, unauthorized access to, or alteration of, submissions.
Representations and Warranties/Indemnification
By participating in the Challenge, each entrant represents, warrants, and covenants as follows:
(a) The entrants are the sole authors, creators, and owners of the submission; (b) The entrant’s submission;
- Is not the subject of any actual or threatened litigation or claim;
- Does not, and will not, violate or infringe upon the privacy rights, publicity rights, or other legal rights of any third party; and
- Does not contain any harmful computer code (sometimes referred to as “malware,” “viruses,” or “worms”).
(c) The submission, and entrants’ implementation of the submission, does not, and will not, violate any applicable laws or regulations of the United States.
Entrants will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Department from and against all third party claims, actions, or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs, and expenses relating to, or arising from, entrant’s submission or any breach or alleged breach of any of the representations, warranties, and covenants of entrant hereunder.
The Department reserves the right to disqualify any submission that the Department, in its discretion, deems to violate these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions in this notice.
Ownership and Licensing
Each entrant retains full ownership of their submission, including all intellectual property rights therein. By participating in the Challenge, each entrant hereby grants to the Department a royalty-free, nonexclusive, irrevocable, and worldwide license to reproduce, publish, produce derivative works, distribute copies to the public, perform publicly and display publicly, and/or otherwise use the submissions.
By participating in the Challenge, each entrant hereby irrevocably grants to the Department the right to use the entrant’s name, likeness, image, and biographical information in any and all media for advertising and promotional purposes relating to the Challenge.
The Department reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any entrant who is found to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Challenge, Challenge webpage, or other Challenge-related webpages; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions; to be acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with the intent to disrupt or undermine the legitimate operation of the Challenge; or to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any other person; and, the Department reserves the right to seek damages and other remedies from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.
Links to Third-Party Webpages
The Challenge webpage may contain links to third-party webpages that are not owned or controlled by the Department. The Department does not endorse or assume any responsibility for any such third-party sites. If an entrant accesses a third-party webpage from the Challenge webpage, the entrant does so at the entrant’s own risk and expressly relieves the Department from any and all liability arising from use of any third-party webpage content.
The Challenge webpage contains information and resources from public and private organizations that may be useful to the reader. Inclusion of this information does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of any products or services offered or views expressed.
The Challenge webpage also contains hyperlinks and URLs created and maintained by outside organizations, which are provided for the reader’s convenience. The Department is not responsible for the accuracy of the information contained therein.
Notice to Challenge Entrants and Award Recipients
Attempts to notify entrants and award recipients will be made using the email address associated with the entrants’ submission. The Department is not responsible for email or other communication problems of any kind.
If, despite reasonable efforts, an entrant does not respond within three days of the first notification attempt regarding selection as an award recipient (or a shorter time as exigencies may require) or if the notification is returned as undeliverable to such entrant, that entrant may forfeit the entrant’s award and associated prizes, and an alternate award recipient may be selected.
If any potential award recipient is found to be ineligible, has not complied with these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions, or declines the applicable prize for any reason prior to award, such potential award recipient will be disqualified. An alternate award recipient may be selected, or the applicable award may go unawarded.
The Department reserves the right to modify any dates or deadlines set forth in these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions or otherwise governing the Challenge.
The Department reserves the right to suspend, postpone, cease, terminate, or otherwise modify this Challenge, or any entrant’s participation in the Challenge, at any time at the Department’s discretion.
General Liability Release
By participating in the Challenge, each entrant hereby agrees that — (a) The Department shall not be responsible or liable for any losses, damages, or injuries of any kind (including death) resulting from participation in the Challenge or any Challenge-related activity, or from entrants’ acceptance, receipt, possession, use, or misuse of any prize; and (b) The entrant will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Department from and against all third party claims, actions, or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs, and expenses relating to, or arising from, the entrant’s participation in the Challenge.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Department is not responsible for incomplete, illegible, misdirected, misprinted, late, lost, postage-due, damaged, or stolen entries or prize notifications; or for lost, interrupted, inaccessible, or unavailable networks, servers, satellites, Internet Service Providers, webpages, or other connections; or for miscommunications, failed, jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected computer, telephone, cable transmissions or other communications; or for any technical malfunctions, failures, difficulties, or other errors of any kind or nature; or for the incorrect or inaccurate capture of information, or the failure to capture any information.
These Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions cannot be modified except by the Department in its sole and absolute discretion. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable or illegal, these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions shall otherwise remain in effect and shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or illegal provision were not contained herein.
The failure of the Department to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision.
All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with U.S. Federal law as applied in the Federal courts of the District of Columbia if a complaint is filed by any party against the Department.
By participating in the Challenge, each entrant hereby agrees that occasionally, the Department may also use the entrant’s information to contact the entrant about Federal Challenge and innovation related activities.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any comments or questions about these Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions.
Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the submission package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to email@example.com.
Up to 100 points may be assigned during the judging of submissions based on the following criteria:
Innovation (50 points). The submission should:
- Offer a creative redesign using non-traditional improvements that maximize user experience in terms of form and function.
- Propose new adaptations and innovations in layout, typography, animation, illustration, video, and photography.
- Use new technologies and innovative tools, i.e., plug-ins.
Quality of redesign (35 points). The submission should:
- Have a clean, simple, modern aesthetic
- Have an easy-to-navigate interface with a quick response time.
- Integrate social media, video, photography, and plug-ins.
Compliance with federal standards and website requirements (15 points). The submission should:
- Meet accessibility, US Web Design Standards maturity model, and 21st Century IDEA Act, etc., standards.
Reviewer Conflict of Interest
Prior to the start of the judging, all submissions will be reviewed to ensure no reviewer will have a conflict of interest with any submission he/she will be reviewing. Reviewers in this challenge may not review a submission in which they (a) have personal or financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of any entity that is a registered participant in the Prize challenge; or (b) have a familial or financial relationship with an individual who is a registered participant.
ED will screen all completed submissions to determine compliance with submission criteria and assign reviewers to independently score the content of each qualified submission. The reviewers will be composed of ED subject matter experts with expertise in relevant website and web design areas. The size of the review panel will be based on the number of entrants. As needed, after preliminary consideration of all submissions for suitability in terms of innovation, quality of redesign and compliance with federal web standards, ED will eliminate those not meeting these standards in order to determine compliance with submission criteria. Reviewers will offer input scores on those submissions passing the initial review. Reviewers will rate submissions using the judging criteria above and make non-consensus forming recommendations as to which finalists should be selected as winners. ED will make final selection determinations. One or more concepts will be selected as winners. Up to three prize winners may be selected from the submissions, including a Grand Prize, a Runner Up, and an Honorable Mention.
By participating in the Challenge, each entrant acknowledges and agrees that such recommendations of the reviewers based on the criteria may differ and agrees to be bound by, and not to challenge, the final decisions of the Department.
How To Enter
To submit an entry, an entrant must email firstname.lastname@example.org by the June 15, 2020 deadline. All entrants are required to provide consent to the Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions upon submitting an entry. Once submitted, a submission may not be altered. The Department reserves the right to disqualify any submission that the Department deems inappropriate. The Department encourages entrants to submit entries as far in advance of the deadline as possible.
Individuals with disabilities who need an accommodation or auxiliary aid in connection with the submission process should contact email@example.com. If the Department provides an accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability in connection with the submission process, the entry remains subject to all other requirements and limitations in this notice.
Timeline and Notification
All submissions will be acknowledged as they are received. The winning proposal(s) will be notified via email by August 3, 2020. All are invited to compete for the implementation contract expected to request proposals by August 28, 2020.