Website Redesign and Front-end Development for Section-508 Compliance

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

STScI is preparing for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in the spring of 2019 and is supporting the scientific operations for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) in formulation for launch in the mid-2020s. 

the challenge

Often referred to as a “25-year old science experiment,” when STScI was founded in the 1980s to support Hubble’s launch, it was not foreseen that the Institute would continue as long as it did, and as such, they did not have a cohesive message to talk about who they are or what they do. 

Now a thriving multi-mission organization with expertise in astronomy, scientific research and public outreach, STScI needed to build a brand around their strategic positioning as a bleeding-edge organization. Further, they needed to communicate this to their broad range of audiences that include scientists, members of the media, policymakers and the general public. The Institute partnered with agencyQ to overhaul their digital strategy, including the redesign of their website and development of a supporting social media strategy and implementation plan. 

the value

The initial phase of the redesigned site launched in February 2018, while remaining content areas are continuing to be built out. The value to the Institute will be realized throughout the organization, as well as by their target audiences, including:

  • Builds brand equity by uniting staff around a singular purpose, and educating the public of who STScI is and what they do
  • Attracting top talent across all of STScI’s areas of expertise
  • Greater attention from potential government sponsors / policymakers, as well as members of the media
  • Moves STScI onto a stable, modern CMS platform that empowers subject matter experts to manage their own content efficiently. This ensures more accurate and up to date information

The Solution

Space Telescope Science Institute screenshot

To help STScI develop a meaningful brand identity and subsequent digital strategy, agencyQ:

  • Conducted several rounds of stakeholder interviews with subject matter experts to understand their unique roles within the Institute’s mission, target audiences, and resulting content needs
  • Developed user personas for each of the target audiences
  • Drafted a foundational sitemap that can continue to grow and evolve with STScI’s needs
  • Designed a new visual identity that portrayed the modern capabilities of the institute
  • Constructed page templates to meet the current needs and future visions of each of the functional areas within STScI
  • Built the front-end user interface (HTML, CSS, JS), ensuring SEO optimization, page load speed, security and compliance with Section 508 standards of ADA (WCAG 2.0 Level AA)
  • Collaborated with STScI’s in-house development team to integrate our front-end code with their template builds in Jahia
  • In tandem with the redesign, conducted an audit to identify all of STScI’s disparate social properties
  • Developed social strategy to unite STScI’s presence across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, including recommended cadence, best practices and possible content topics