Educational Website Modernization
Modernize a site created with a print publishing mindset, and set the foundation for future transformation. The updated design refreshed core areas of a popular education website with goals to improve discoverability of content and modernize templates to be truly responsive. The primary challenge was the organization’s heritage of video production and a print magazine—there was not an understanding of web workflows, systems or component thinking, and how the editorial content strategy directly relates to UX and visual design.
In-house Creative Director for a small non-profit, The George Lucas Education Foundation. I was a one-woman band (hired freelancers to supplement) and worked with editorial, technical, and marketing leads.
Implementing the new approach
What I Did
- Analysis and needs assessment
- User interviews
- Developed personas and user scenarios
- Radically improved responsive mobile views
- Redesigned static, manually styled content into components
- Created a new IA model that radically increased traffic to key educator content
- Guerrilla user testing on clickable prototypes
Analyzing content, design and process
The quality of the content is fantastic!
I analyzed the overall user experience including content, visual design, messaging, and navigation. Along the way I discovered that there was virtually no digital content strategy in the organization, and the CMS was largely used as a word processor with much content styled manually. There was not a regular practice for qualitative research.
Articulating the problems from a user’s point of view
I went on a treasure hunt to find all the hidden content. I mapped out the different content types, and the pathways the site pushed people into and away from most of the rich resources. There were hidden gems in the website that were virtually undiscoverable. Much of the historical content was still quite valid and useful to educators but undervalued internally because it wasn’t seen as “fresh” content.
Creating a place for UX in the process
The team was accustomed to going straight from a brainstormed idea to visual comps. I needed to change the process, make it more iterative, and include UX and content strategy. I explored ideas through sketches, and incorporated page goals and user goals into the conversation. It was difficult at first for the team to evaluate sketches, wireframes, and work in progress and sometimes refused to even try to review something that wasn’t being presented as a near final and polished concept. It also was not part of the process to consider the context in which the content would be used, and if the format was the most effective method. I coached stakeholders how to evaluate and contribute to the work in multiple stages.
Information architecture solutions
Created solutions to:
- Leverage a taxonomy system and create more opportunities on all templates to discover related content, of any content type, especially for mobile. This resulted in radically increased traffic to content not found on Home page.
- Create topic pages that are mini home pages, with a mix of dynamic and curated content, and add topics to the primary navigation.
- Make case study content more inviting to explore. Break down dense narratives and present it in a more modular, visual, and consumable way. Create components that can also dynamically appear elsewhere on the site.