Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy: new look, new system

The Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy certainly needed a new website. But more importantly, its administrators needed a new registration system.

And not just any registration system. This system had to privilege the user experience of stressed parents signing their kids up for music lessons.

The answer for the website was WordPress. But for the registration system? Not so clear. There are plugins for everything, but when you put them all together they work much like a junior string ensemble might sound.

So Connexxions Consulting and I went with Amilia. This software-as-service is born for this. Whether it’s a dance school, soccer league, swim lessons, after school program, Amilia works brilliantly. It manages activity schedules, instructors, room bookings, sells merchandise, accepts donations etc etc.

It has some shortcomings — its ‘store’ is not so great at selling tickets, its mass communication tools need help — but for the cost of a few program registrations a year, a tiny, underpaid, overtasked admin team can sign up with Amilia and watch a ton of administrative overhead and busywork just fade away.

A look to match the mandate

In addition to having contemporary sizing, mechanics and visuals, the OYOA site needed to convey welcome and warmth. The site’s publishers wanted to emphasize the welcoming and encouraging aspect of music for young learners. Yes, there are auditions, yes some of its students have ambitions, but OYOA is about bringing all children and youth into the world of music.

So warm colours, reduced emphasis on black and white dress outfits and typography that eschewed orchestral discipline. But above all, design that gets out of the way to show young musicians and get parents quickly to where they want to go.