The process we followed is not the only way to undertake such a redesign. For example, it is perfectly feasible to conduct a redesign without consultation and without usability testing. However, following a structured approach improves the probability that the new version will serve the requirements of the business and the needs of the users.
Analysis consists of gaining a sufficient understanding of:
Because of the nature of our relationship with our audience, we had a large amount of information from our existing users. Most of this feedback tended to be positive, and to relate the availability of the free resources on our site. Clearly, it would be important for us to continue to maintain those resources. We had conflicting feedback on the visual aspect of the design. Some users strongly supported the simple nature of the site design, while others commented that it was ‘bland’ or lacking colour.
The amount of user needs analysis conducted was significantly less than we would typically recommend for most clients (who may not have a strong day-to-day relationship via the web with their customers).
We conducted two internal workshops to consider the issues and requirements, and to develop design goals and scenarios. The workshops took less than a day in total – this represents excellent value in terms of return on effort, because the outputs of these workshops informed the subsequent design activity.
We did not employ additional resources for the redesign, so work was done when the pressure of other immediate project activity was low. Technology constraints did not present any difficulty, as we were equipped with all the features we required.
This is a tedious job, but one which, if neglected, can cause much difficulty in terms of problems with the redesigned site (especially in terms of broken links and missing content).
We automated part of this task by using the command line to get a text list of every element on the current site, and using that as the basis of a simple spreadsheet.
For each item in the spreadsheet, we noted its name, location, type, nature (for example, graphic, document, form), size, owner, users, date created (or last updated), and incoming links. This allowed us to decide which items would be deleted, transferred to the new site, or treated in some way and then transferred to the new site.
During the design stage, we specified the location of each item in the redesigned site structure.
Reviewing the requirements enabled us to identify the total amount of content required, and we undertook affinity diagramming exercises to group this information in meaningful ways.
We held several informal design sessions. We made a decision to maintain, where practical, the same simple navigational structure already in use, but to break it down into smaller and more modular elements – this would improve the user experience and make the site easier to maintain.
Evaluation can take place at various stages of the design process. For a large site, initial evaluations can and should be conducted early – even before a working prototype is available.
Since our site is relatively small, with homogenous pages, we conducted a usability test using a working prototype of part of the site.
The usability test revealed several issues – most of which were relatively easy to address. We made several minor changes to the design as a result of the testing.
We used Hypertext Preprocessor (php) for web development. As the initial version of the website was HTML based so we converted it to php.
PHP based static website was developed. This allows for relatively easy global changes, and has proved enormously more efficient than our previous HTML version.
Having tested that the design worked, we migrated all content to the new structure, and launched the site.
We documented the steps required to add, delete or change the site content and structure, so that it can be handled by any appropriate person in the future.
We should conduct further usability testing to validate the changes made. However, given that we were satisfied with the results of the testing, and have made minor changes to address these changes, we had a degree of confidence that the new site represents an improvement, from a usability perspective, on the previous version.
The techniques we used were simple and, if conducted carefully, should result in quality benefits for any organization.
We further developed another website for them www.blueskyacademy.co.uk and currently we develop campaigns templates for them on periodic basis.