Prospective students visiting our website don’t care about our departmental structures or internal wranglings. They want information relevant to them, quickly.
During the alpha phase of the Theme project we’ve created a User-needs Matrix, along with user-journey mapping and personas based on the best knowledge we have at the moment on what people need when they come to our website.
This helps us to focus on user-journeys, rather than departmental structures. By posing questions that users may ask, by understanding what scenarios are they in and what they are trying to achieve and by giving a sense of how they may feel, encourages us to be empathetic and outward focussed.
The aim is to create purposeful content for our users that leads them through tasks that they want to achieve.
User-journeys depend on coordinated content. This is a part of effective information architecture. Users are happy to click through content as long as there is an information scent leading them towards their goal.
As we start creating prototypes to test with users, we want to create a new, simplified global navigation that focusses on these user needs and doesn’t overwhelm the user with superfluous information.
The current global navigation has grown organically over the years. User-testing, analytics and heat-mapping has show that too many links are overwhelming. Finding easy starting points can be difficult and users often gravitate to the search field.
We want our website content to flow seamlessly supporting our common user journeys rather than departmental structures.
This depends on the people creating the content, the challenge is to coordinate ourselves better across teams. Better communication will lead to more consistency and less duplication – our users being the winner.
We have a common interest, our users (prospective students and staff). They are the main reason we are creating content. How can we make it easier for them to find what they need and lead them around content?
Letting users decide
From the end of September onwards we’ll be doing user-testing.
This feedback will test our assumptions for a new approach to global navigation and hopefully provide a unified approach to content helping us focus on what is important – our users.
“Puzzle pieces” by Flickr user Electric-Eye CC BY 2.0