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Brookings Institution

Delivering big ideas from Washington to the world

Since the June 2023 launch

  • +101% Mobile User Acquisition

    +22% Organic search traffic

    +347% Events page views

    +59.8% Email subscriptions

    +15% Session duration

    +26% SEO conversion rate

    Panelists on the stage during a Brookings event

    The Brookings Institution is considered one of the top think tanks in the country. Brookings brings together more than 300 leading experts in government and academia from all over the world who provide the highest quality research, analysis, and policy recommendations on topics ranging from economics to international affairs, climate and energy, healthcare and more.

    The Brookings website is where leading experts go to access Brookings’ research, commentary, scholars, and events. Teal was selected to build a new site that reflected the organization’s brand and position as a beacon for policymakers worldwide.

    The Challenge

    When Teal began our work in 2021, the most recent version of the Brookings website was already 5 years old. And although the site still served its purpose, technology had evolved, content had expanded, and new organizational priorities had been set. Brookings looked to Teal to transform the organization’s digital presence and build a new site that reflects its position as a world-wide leader. Our goals were to:

    • Devise a content strategy and governance plan to account for 100K+ unique pieces of existing content and support a publishing cadence of 75-125 additional pieces of content each week
    • Construct a flexible, scalable design system and infrastructure that would allow Brookings independent research programs to manage content and features per their specific priorities
    • Reduce the time and labor associated with content syndication, maintenance, troubleshooting, and bug fixes
    • Establish an engagement funnel to convert casual, occasional readers to regular readers and frequent attendees of Brookings events
    • Build a custom data and analytics dashboard to compile data across website analytics, SEO, social media, and more to make it easy for Brookings content managers to measure performance across different channels, to meet KPIs

    Our Approach

    Given the organization’s size and complexity—nearly 1,000 employees and dozens of projects and initiatives with unique priorities—Teal understood how important it was to collaborate and earn buy-in from people across all levels of the organization. To achieve this, we:

    • Kicked off the project with a robust discovery phase that included learning sessions with internal Brookings stakeholders, market research, data analysis, and in-depth interviews and surveys with target audiences
    • Set up a ‘concentric circle’ structure for review and feedback, with the Brookings’ web team at the center, followed by research program directors and stakeholders, and Brookings executive leadership
    • Established small working groups to dive deep into features including the sitewide taxonomy, site search, data visualization, data dashboard, Brookings’ story of impact, and digital marketing
    • Held monthly ‘town halls’ open to all Brookings staff, where we provided updates on our progress, discussed the reasoning behind certain decisions, and invited feedback
    • Conducted iterative testing of wireframes, visual designs, and front-end builds throughout the design and development process to ensure our work met stakeholder and target audience needs
    • Created a backlog of nice-to-have features and functionality for post-launch consideration, including custom HTML components and new functionality.
    • Held 2x/week office hours to answer questions and provide additional training throughout the content preparation and migration phases

    Solution

    Teal’s comprehensive solution for Brookings went far beyond the website—we transformed the way Brookings publishes and manages content, and builds relationships with target audiences. The incredibly friendly user interface makes navigating the site and finding information simple and effortless; yet there is an immense level of complexity that powers the interactions and data behind the site. That complexity is also invisible to Brookings content managers who are able to create and publish content efficiently and build dynamic content relationships across the site, regardless of what research program they are housed in. Highlights include:

    • A main navigation that reflects the topics that audiences typically seek out, rather than following Brookings departmental structure
    • A drastically simplified and shared sitewide taxonomy that breaks down walls between Brookings research programs, and will allow the site to surface content to visitors based on their browsing behavior with the help of a parse.ly integration
    • A tightly integrated marketing strategy that captures visitor information for mailing lists, subscriptions, and event RSVPs to promote continual and deepening engagement
    • A digital marketing campaign to announce the launch to Brookings’ audiences—everything from social media, email, paid advertising, and SEO to bolster brand awareness

    Technical Details

    • A flexible, scalable design system that allows Brookings content creators to build their own pages from a library of shared components, blocks, and templates
    • A fully customized WordPress-based back-end interface with built-in ‘help’ documentation and reusable ‘snippets’
    • Programmatic migration and transformation of over 100,000 pieces of content in preparation for launch
    • Roles and permissions for multiple different levels of authorship, review, and publishing capabilities
    • Strict compliance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards
    • Best-of-class website hosting with powerful security features and web-application firewall
    • A robust sitewide search, powered by Algolia, with AI-based instant-search results
    • Robust and user-friendly data visualization tool based in Datawrapper
    • Multi-language translation capabilities on a per-article basis (English, Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish)
    • Seamless integration of Brookings email, event registration, and donate platforms
    • Heavily customized analytics engine, including a customized data layer to track specific page metrics, as well as ensure continuity of analytics between ‘old’ and ‘new’ sites.

    Launching Brookings

    The new Brookings website launched in June 2023. Teal continues to support Brookings with ongoing audience research, regular iteration and improvements, new features and functionality releases, and digital marketing support.

    Teal has turned out to be the perfect partner for us. Sometimes in life you get lucky enough to find the perfect partner. Teal has been the epitome of the problem-solving partner. There is a Japanese concept of Shokunin, or the spiritual obligation to society to be the best you can be at your craft to make the world a better place. Teal embodies this!

    Soren Messner-Zidell

    Next Project

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    Three people standing together at a protest, wearing tshirts with positive slogans about drug policy and healthcare. The first says,

    Drug Policy Alliance

    Teal introduces a new energy and a fresh vibe to the storied brand of the Drug Policy Alliance.