Workforce Solutions Panhandle

Connecting Individuals With Employment Assistance Services, Virtually

Workforce Solutions Panhandle is a local version of a state agency that assists employers and job seekers throughout a 26 county region in the Texas Panhandle.  Workforce Solutions partners with the Texas Workforce Commission and the American Job Center to provide the largest job-matching database in the State of Texas.

Workforce Solutions Panhandle helps employers recruit, hire, and retain qualified workers, and to retrain current workers. They provide job seekers with the information, training, and assistance needed to obtain and keep employment that leads to a living wage. Assistance for job seekers includes resume building, career development, and career exploration, as well as assisting with job training, work experience, or occupational training, and child care costs.

What We Did

User Journeys and UX Mapping

Website Design & Development

Web Application Design & Development

Copywriting & Stock Photography

Search Engine Optimization

Web Security Consulting & Development

 

Website Accessibility Consulting

Accessible Web Design & Development

Live Accessibility Testing with Visually Impaired Testers

The Challenge

The prior Workforce Solutions website was out-of-date, not fully mobile-responsive or ADA/Section 508 compliant for accessibility, and lacked a content management system that would allow non-technical staff to edit website content. Workforce Solutions needed to modernize their web presence and bring it into compliance with their legal requirement to provide accessible content.

Additionally, Workforce Solutions Panhandle serves a largely rural community surrounding Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. Many of the job seekers they serve need to drive hours in order to come to the Workforce office, which is especially challenging for low-income customers or those who lack adequate transportation. In addition to bringing the website up to current standards, a major goal for the project was to develop a custom web portal that would allow Workforce Solutions to better serve their customers remotely. It was very important that job seekers, employers, and childcare providers be able to securely communicate and share documents with workforce staff without having to drive hours to the office.

Along with these higher-level goals, there were a number of unique challenges specific to this project:

  • The final website needed to be user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, functionally complete and easily maintainable via a Content Management System (CMS).
  • Both the website and web portal needed to be usable on low-bandwidth internet connections and possess a small data footprint for metered connections common among their rural customers.
  • Introduce modern web standards such as mobile responsive design, dynamic headers/fooders, and styling for higher resolution devices such as Apple retina, Microsoft Surface and 4K displays.
  • Both the website and web portal needed to meet legal web accessibility requirements, including WCAG 2.1 AA.
  • Development of a customer portal that included a flexible form creation and editing system so that non-technical staff could quickly and easily modify the onboarding and ongoing processes for workforce customers without a developer.
  • The web application needed to include individualized content delivery and tracking, secure document/information management, the ability for customer data to be exported and printed in specific PDF formats, and a customer messaging/support ticketing system.
  • The web application needed robust security features wherever data entered or exited, ensuring that sensitive user information is protected in accordance with current best practices and applicable State and Federal laws, including HIPAA.
  • All content on the website and in the portal needed to be easily translated by users into a number of different foreign languages with the simple click of a button.

They delivered a secure solution within an important timeframe. Since the virus outbreak, it’s been critical that we can work and do business remotely, and the platform has allowed both ourselves and our customers to do so. On top of that, their customer service was phenomenal. They went above and beyond to meet all of our expectations.

Trent Morris, Workforce Solutions Panhandle Director

Our Approach

In order to best achieve Workforce Solutions’ goals, we started the project with an intensive discovery phase completed over a number of weeks.  The discovery phase included multiple detailed meetings with Workforce and Road Warrior Creative team members virtually and also a day spent on-site at the Workforce offices in Amarillo so that our team could clearly understand all of the various services provided by Workforce Solutions. Having this foundational understanding of the agency, the services they provide, and their mission was vital to successfully achieving those goals. After multiple deep-dives into desired aesthetic and functionality needs, we worked with heads of each department to create nine (9) unique user journeys which clearly mapped the path of various customer types through their contact with workforce staff, the website, and in the portal.

Though this was delivered as a single project, we broke the design, development, content, and testing phases into separate projects for the website and portal. Focusing first on the more straight-forward design and development for the website allowed our respective teams time to more fully define the user experience (UX) and security needs for the more complex web portal. Spending extra time to very clearly map out these elements at the beginning ensured that we were able to deliver the best possible product, and the successful launch of the website and portal is a testament to this extra care.

Once the user mapping and navigation structure was created, our content team helped Workforce staff in writing and editing all needed copy. As a team that is highly focused on accessibility, our approach to design and development is always accessibility-first, and this includes providing guidance on content structure, navigation, and language. From the very beginning of the design phase, we paid careful attention to details such as color-contrast, proximity, error and focus states, and other items that would impact useability. Once the website and portal had been coded out, we performed crawls and audits to ensure the site met WCAG 2.1 AA standards. Finally, we had two different blind testers perform live screenreader testing with different screenreader software, then made final coding changes based upon their feedback.

With a project of this scale, which includes a custom-developed web application expected to be used by thousands of concurrent users, the roll-out needs to be carefully considered. In collaboration with Workforce Solutions, we implemented a phased launch for the website and different user types within the portal. This allowed workforce staff to learn the new platform and slowly acclimate users to the portal on a timeframe that made sense to them, department-by-department. Because of the complexity of the project, we included extra training (including in-person training at Workforce Solutions’ office) and additional post-launch support.

Website Design & Development

click and drag the screen

Computer
workforce solutions home page

A modern, mobile-responsive,
WCAG 2.1 AA compliant website.

Customer Portal Web Application

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The Results

Workforce Solutions Panhandle’s new website and customer portal launched in early February 2020, just months before the Coronavirus pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs and all non-essential employees to begin working from home – Workforce staff included. Workforce Solutions is now serving an unprecedented number of job seekers and employers, with their entire staff working from home. The new website has allowed them to quickly add content related to Coronavirus-related services and is now meeting their legal requirements for accessibility. With more clearly organized content and a mobile-friendly design that allows rural customers on low-bandwidth internet connections to easily access information, the Workforce Solutions website was ready for the increased traffic and demand. More importantly, the customer portal we developed is a vital tool allowing the agency to more effectively serve large numbers of people, securely communicating and sharing sensitive documents remotely.

In subsequent discussions with Workforce Solutions Panhandle’s Director, we were encouraged to share this solution with other centers in their network and beyond, in the hopes of creating greater impact for job seekers across the region. Building on what we have already learned, our team is working hard on outreach and to find ways to quickly and effectively roll out similar solutions at other workforce centers across the nation.