First Move: America’s Chess Foundation (AFC) has just one crazy goal – get underprivileged kids excited about school and thinking critically through learning and playing chess in class. AFC knows there’s no time like early childhood to mold the way someone thinks and set their maximum cognitive ability, so they needed to sell their curriculum to inner city schools for their 2nd grade classes. However, the problem was that the foundation’s website failed to communicate the value of its curriculum, and its stock imagery didn’t represent anything like the diversity of its target audience. That’s where Sayenko Design entered the scene.

Project Included

Website Goals

1) Build a brand story that captures who the foundation is for and how they change student’s lives, using a custom WordPress theme.

2) Convert more schools into leads using explainer videos, in-depth success stories, and testimonials related to the academic challenges that AFC solves for teachers and students.

3) Enhance the product offering and increase retention by creating a password-protected teacher portal for video lesson plans.

4) Integrate the site’s forms with Salesforce CRM & MailChimp for easy lead nurturing and sales efforts.

Website Strategy

It all started with the needs of 2nd grade classrooms in their annual planning during the summer. Researching a wide swath of competitors, we focused in on the search terms that superintendents, directors of curriculum and teachers were using to find ways to make math and critical thinking more fun and memorable for kids. From there sprung a plan for messaging, voice, and content that would show these personas just how AFC could solve their education problems. It certainly helped that the site we built was so lightweight and easy to navigate that visitors ended up in the sales funnel in a click or less, from anywhere on the site. Combine this with SEO best practices for content and site structure, and you get a highly visible experience that practically sells itself.

Curriculum Education Portal

We restructured the entire backend experience for the site, making a portal called TEDNET (Teacher Education Network) where over 5000 teachers in 26 states access the weekly video lessons and find valuable resources. How it works:

1) Schools and teachers register with an invitation code

2) Access a password protected video library for year one and two curriculum

3) Drag embedded branded flowplayer videos into custom lesson post pages for each class

The Results


Increase in Repeat Users

The qualitative results speak for themselves – traffic, repeat users, and school signups jumped immediately when the new site launched. Just as important are the quantitative results, telling an honest new story through original diverse photography, success stories demonstrating real classroom effectiveness, and content that reinforces the mission. This all helps countless schools understand just how valuable AFC’s offering is. Checkmate.

first move chess website homepage beforefirst move chess website re-design

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Since 2009, the Seattle based Sayenko Design team has been creating custom sites built in WordPress. You only get experts from web strategists, designers to web developers, each team member has 8+ years of experience. How many firms can say that?