Always Thinking

American Montessori Society

New Brand Identity & Website for Progressive Education Association

New & Improved, Flexible Brand Language

New & Improved, Flexible Brand Language

The American Montessori Society’s (AMS) existing brand identity needed a refresh; TBG’s (The Berndt Group) new design provided a solid, flexible branding language that clearly communicated AMS’ important values in a unique and interesting way. We also worked with AMS to redesign their print materials around the new logo that we developed. The website reinforces the new logo and branding.

AMS logo
Website Redesign & CMS Implementation

Website Redesign & CMS Implementation

In addition to a fresh perspective on the AMS branding, TBG rearchitected and redesigned the AMS website, focusing on the needs of AMS’ core constituencies: teachers, parents and school administrators. TBG also implemented the new design in Sitecore, taking advantage of the platform’s solid and open architecture to create important functionality around events, content permissioning and third party integrations.

AMS screenshot
A Lasting Relationship

A Lasting Relationship

TBG and AMS have a long history together, collaborating successfully on multiple projects. Our initial engagement involved a rebranding, website redesign, and Sitecore implementation.  The AMS site is an example of best practices for a major association. Developed in the Sitecore CMS, the new site and new identity for the organization is a successful example of TBG taking an organization to the next level of sophistication and strategy. TBG and AMS’ relationship didn’t end with the site’s launch. This initial engagement has stretched into a lasting partnership providing AMS direct access to TBG’s expertise on an ongoing basis. TBG continues to be AMS’ agency of record, continuing to grow the functionality of the site and adapting to changing user needs.

AMS subpage screenshot

TBG & AMS

With the launch of www.amshq.org and its new brand identity, TBG (The Berndt Group) launched another successful best practices association website.

Located in mid-town Manhattan, the American Montessori Society (AMS) is a leading professional organization for Montessori schools and teachers, with strong connections to parents and students. The organization shares many of the goals of progressive educational associations, but also has the specific concerns of the Montessori tradition: openness, respect for individuality, and an ethic of self-directed learning. TBG strongly considered these factors while developing both the new graphic identity and the new website for the organization. We think the result is one of the friendliest—and most usable sites—that we've developed for a nonprofit organization.

Our approach to this project began with thorough discussions with AMS leadership and research into both the Montessori tradition and best practices in professional associations with an education focus. Taking over the process of brand design from another vendor, TBG created a complete brand theory for the organization, weighting a variety of desirable characteristics, and then working through the considerations around the limitations of what can be expressed in the narrow attention-space that a brand must confront.

The elegant iconography that came out of the process—the new AMS logo with a complex shape that is both inside and outside at once—we think, is one of the more striking education brands, managing to convey a complex identity in a compelling way. After user testing with constituents and staff, TBG finalized the logo that then became an important driver for the look-and-feel of the entire site.

The remainder of site development followed our structured design processes, including Web strategy, information architecture, graphic design, and development of functional requirements, prototyping, content migration and training. A major focus in the project was the creation of as much automation as possible in the Sitecore CMS, allowing AMS to leverage a small Web staff and maintain a complex site. As with every CMS project, a lot of the institutional value is in really using the product to its full potential, not just staging the site with it, a common mistake made by rank-and-file developers. 

TBG also worked with AMS to develop a plan for the maintenance of the site, with a focus on standards and long-term health of the website. 

All-in-all, an extremely gratifying project where we got to solve a lot of problems in one fell swoop for an important education organization. And some of us (we won't say who) went to Montessori school, making for an extra layer of gratification! TBG continues to work with AMS, providing ongoing Web services and support.

"Anyone who has ever created a new website for a major organization knows what a comprehensive and challenging job it is. At best one might hope to work with a Web development firm that is tech-savvy, creative, efficient, and responsive. You would hope that your ideas would be listened to and taken to another level, and that problems would be solved, not created. TBG did all this and more."

Marcy Krever

Director of Communication & Marketing, American Montessori Society

Live Site

What We Did

Technology Partners

Awards

  • trophy iconWinner: W3 Award, Gold
  • 1907Year 1st Montessori School Opened
  • trophy iconWinner: WebAward
  • graduation cap iconMaya Angelou was a Montessorian
  • award ribbon iconBest Practices Association Site
Parlaying the New Branding into the Website’s Look-&-Feel

Parlaying the New Branding into the Website’s Look-&-Feel

Once TBG established AMS’ new branding, it was our job to effectively and seamlessly parlay the new branding into the new website to serve the needs of all of their important audiences.

The AMS site serves a number of important constituencies including parents interested in Montessori education for their children. For them, the site needed to demonstrate what Montessori education is, the benefits of a Montessori education, and facilitate finding a nearby member school. Aspiring School Administrators are also an important audience, looking for guidance on accreditation, starting a school and the services that AMS provides. And finally: teachers who are looking for support inside their classrooms and with their Montessori teaching careers.

The new site design successfully used the new branding identity to address the needs of each of these constituencies by creating areas specifically for the various constituencies.

A Best Practices CMS Implementation

A Best Practices CMS Implementation

TBG recommended Sitecore as the CMS platform to power the new AMS site. This recommendation came from our familiarity with the CMS market, and our understanding of AMS’ needs for a rock solid, dependable platform that was open and flexible enough to allow for bidirectional communication. Our implementation of Sitecore for AMS gave them a solid, easy to use, platform to manage their new site.

Important areas of focus included authenticated members-only content, tight third party integrations, and content structures that allowed AMS to manage complex areas of content easily. The AMS site features content available only to the organization’s members. This content is all managed and permissioned through Sitecore, allowing AMS’ staff to quickly and easily create and modify content while maintaining its relationship and availability to the right audience. Content permissioning requires some of the most complex content management, and our implementation helped to simplify the complex situation and make it easy and understandable for AMS’ staff.

The members-only content is reliant on a third party Association Management System integration that allows AMS members to authenticate directly with the membership database. This integration proved challenging but provides a high amount of value to AMS, allowing the organization to manage all of their member information in a central, purpose built, location.

Other integrations with AMS’ Association Management System allowed us to create accurate tools for finding resources, like schools or teacher education programs, and integrate them directly into the website. These integrations relied on Web services providing school and program data that then becomes searchable on the site and allow site visitors to quickly and easily find the information and resources they are looking for.

One of the biggest challenges for the AMS site was creating an easy way for AMS’ conference planners to managed the vast amount of content they create each year. This content gets presented in multiple ways, allowing conference attendees to learn the many details about upcoming events and manage their own attendance plan. We aimed to keep the content management experience simple and straightforward while implementing complex content reuse strategies to deliver conference information in multiple ways across the site. The highlight of this implementation is the interactive Printer Friendly Program Book, which allows attendees to select their areas of interest and assemble a printable document that they can use as a guide to the event.