Responses by Kayla Earwood, director of web development; and Cristina Jucan, associate creative director, Sullivan.
Background: Citizen Math is the evolution of a company previously called Mathalicious. The team at Mathalicious wanted to rename and rebrand the company—and totally redesign its website—to compellingly communicate the value of its product, establish itself as a math curriculum innovator and grow its client base.
The creators of Citizen Math believe the highest calling of math education—and math educators—is not only to create better math students but to develop students into educated, engaged adults who recognize math as a tool for building more harmonious communities and a better world. Citizen Math presents math as not just a set of rules and formulas but as a lens through which young people can more fully see the issues they will face—and a vehicle through which they can participate and help better the world they will inherit. In fact, just like situations in the real world, some of the lessons will have no single—or even right—answer. This approach is apparent in the construct of each Citizen Math lesson and the wide range of topical, thought-provoking lessons presented, from “What factors influence homelessness in a city?” to “Which MLB stadium is hardest for home runs?”
The website is part of a full rebranding of the company with a new identity design and a relaunch of the core product. The website acts as the centerpiece of the rebrand, demonstrating the product and the promise of the brand.
Favorite details: We are really proud that the site looks so modern and fresh compared to many sites in the education space, especially since we want the site to instantly make our audience of educators feel that Citizen Math is the modern, innovative approach to math education they have been seeking. We were very intentional in our use of color, graphics, illustration and copy tone to separate and elevate the site and the brand while making a large amount of content have a friendly, narrative flow. Perhaps what makes us most proud is we believe we were able to deliver on this and still have the site feel welcoming and human. It makes visitors want to dig in and explore.
Challenges: Given that the Citizen Math brand was being launched in conjunction with (and primarily through) the website, the Sullivan team was developing the Citizen Math brand and designing the logo and identity in tandem. In some ways, this was crazy, but in many ways, it was ideal. This parallel process gave us the ability to see the strategy side of the brand reflected in tactics in real time and vice versa, providing valuable insights that enabled us to ensure strategy and tactics for the brand would work as harmoniously as we wished in the real world.
Time constraints: When the project began in early spring of 2020—before we all knew how the severity of COVID-19 would impact schooling—the schedule was to launch in August 2020, pre-fall semester. However, due to the pandemic, the decision was made to soft launch in December 2020 ahead of the spring 2021 semester, as teachers and students would have had a few months of experience managing through the pandemic. Thus, the pandemic made what would have been a fairly aggressive timeline more manageable. This extra time definitely helped us develop the project in its best form.
New lessons: As part of the relaunch, we worked with the development firm Kohactive to integrate the updated marketing site into the core Rails product it manages. Collaborating with a new team of developers always infuses fresh insights into your process, and as a result, you learn things that can make you a more efficient, effective team. Those takeaways are incredibly valuable—and they were during this process, too.