A Collaborative Forum for Engaging in Design

CLIENT:DiscoverDesign - Chicago Architecture Center
PROJECT:DiscoverDesign Online Curriculum
The Chicago Architecture Center introduced DiscoverDesign.org to make design relevant and embraceable for today’s tech-savvy students through real-world design challenges completed online. The website and application includes a digital badging system for challenges completed and a platform for receiving feedback on work from professional mentors.

Learning in an Internet-Connected World

Discoverdesign.org is a site commissioned by the Chicago Architecture Center that offers students the opportunity to learn about skills and careers in design through completing design challenges while being mentored by design professionals through the site and application. Initially introduced in 2009, the Chicago Architecture Center turned to Caxy to implement a completely new application and optimize the website and online community for a generation of students native to the social media age.


The Discovery Process

Understanding the end user was the first step for this project, ensuring the overall experience fit the intended audience. Extensive work was put in to understanding how mentors and students have been successful in the past and then translating and optimizing that process to create the DiscoverDesign online experience. User interviews, research, and audits of the existing content guided the design process, revealing, for example, that a user dashboard for managing work would allow students to come back to and continue working on projects over multiple years of their education.


What We Built

The project included designing and developing the web application, including user dashboards, badging framework, competition workflow and management process, and project creation workflow and management process. The application includes backend access for DiscoverDesign employees to maintain the overall application, as well as analytics and tracking.

Reaching Students Directly in Chicago

The Chicago Architecture Center is devoted to celebrating and promoting Chicago as a center of architectural innovation. Because of this commitment, a notable integration for DiscoverDesign.org included special hooks for Chicago Public Schools in order for local students to gain better understanding the design work happening in their own backyards.  

DiscoverDesign Project Details

A Modern Content Management System

Caxy determined Drupal 8 offered the most advantages for this project. Drupal 8, the newest version of Drupal, allows the Chicago Architecture Center a long window of support through Caxy as well as the reassurance that the site would have some of the newest technology at its disposal. With security being of such importance when working with kids, Drupal 8 also brought the latest security technology to the table.

A Forum for Collaboration

DiscoverDesign.org has evolved into a forum for students, teachers, and mentors to collaboratively engage in solving real-world design challenges through the design process. Students are encouraged to create and curate media in each design challenge to inform design decisions and receive feedback from an online community of other students, teachers, and design professionals.