Abertay University required a root and branch redesign of their website. This was a six month project leading to fully developed responsive website.
Working as part of a development team Mark Haddon developed a UX, research and benchmarking plan and subsequent design output:
- Re-evaluation of the needs of the target communities:
In response to the university's changing demographic, we set up a programme that allowed us to re-examine the needs on the target student groupings. In tandem with traditional research methods such as focus groups, workshops and tracking sessions, we also did extensive qual and quant research using social media channels.
- Benchmarking and structural research:
An extensive and detailed process that looked at best practice across a wide spectrum of similar academic organisations. By mapping user journeys, I examined the different menu structures and page hierarchies employed and their effectiveness in the various screen formats.
- Creative strategy:
As this was a blank-slate project, we made the decision to review all of the creative elements, so that we could both clarify the approach to the design but also to set new guidelines designed to retain consistency going forward. Mark Haddon wrote online design guidelines, photography guidelines and set up and contibuted to the working group to produce key online marketing-driven messaging as well as writing for web guidelines.
- Site mapping and wire-framing:
Optimum routes derived from the above research where designed and tested for usability and simplicity. it was intended that this was to be a responsive-first design so both desktop and responsive layouts were evaluated.
Mark Haddon was also developed the overall interface design for desktop and all responsive states.
A difficulty that many large organisations experience in communicating with prospective client groups is representing a believable story. There is a "well they would say that" response to a university singing its own praises. The students' authentic experience of the university is a critical USP which can validate the claims that a university makes, but is equally often an element that is absent from the organisation's website.
As the project developed and we increasingly used social media as part of our research, it also became apparent that material published in social media channels about Abertay could be fed back into the website as the authentic voice of the students: That we could integrate that highly valued 'voice' back into the website simply by harvesting the students' own stories on social media.