An all too familiar problem
Poor / restrictive content management, poor statistics, not visually appealing, lack of dynamism, navigation not intuitive, confusing labels, too many clicks, no news, poor content, and low traffic.
ANFTAS identified poor levels of usability and a lack of focus on the specific needs of both ANFTAS and its members on the their former website. These formed the primary drivers for a complete redevelopment less than 18 months after a major website development had been undertaken.
Future Medium was identifed as market leaders in being able to reengineer the site in a user-centric manner. And therefore best suited to ensure the organisation had its business needs identified and met whilst also fully exploring the behaviour and needs of its user base.
Back to basics approach
Future Medium conducted numerous workshops with key stakeholders to develop a strategy and a vision that would cleary satisfy users and the organisation.
A strategic session that focussed heavily on the organisation's value and how it needed to communicate with its members identified 3 goals by which the new project should be measured:
- better communicate the organisation's positioning,
- increase access to information and training services for all users, and
- drive open collaborative approaches to beneficial outcomes (i.e. campaigns).
Pursuit of these goals on the web was intended to support new membership applications, which the website also had to facilitate electronically.
Our strategy session then continued to identify the functional and content deliverables to satisfy the goals. Our vision identified a central concept of 'a Community Hub'. The hub would provide for:
- discussion, feedback, and 2-way communication
- allowing members to be heard - making them feel valued,
- facilitating timely service (through 24/7 access to relevant content),
- with security layers that give a richer experience to members but not restrict non-members from feeling the depth of activity and content.
- an e-commerce facility
- with the ability to pay/register for courses and events in a shopping cart
- allowing new members to join
We stipulated that these project goals must also intertwine with effective communication of the brand goals. ANFTAS had to be seen to be modern, leading, professional, of integrity, of quality, and aspiring to further industry development and outcomes for its members.
The User-Centric Approach
A brief study of the audience identified age and behavioural aspects of each demographic. Members of ANFTAS were generally female, 40-45 years old, and nationally acknowledged as 'the most honest working professionals in the country'.
Members and Prospective members were typically time poor but passionate about nursing. Loyalty to ANFTAS was identified as the considerable difference between members and all other groups.
Core User Functions
Strategic discussions honed in on the known individual member group needs i.e. the particular content and functional requirements of each segment within the demographic targets.
Our process of use-case development ascertained how particular sections of content and pieces of functionality would solve each use case. More specifically, member needs were mapped to 'section labels' and 'functions' and any particular behavioural notes that would assist with an effective design solution were recorded.
28 individual use-cases were developed for the users. These use cases were then filtered against the known needs of the organisation to determine what content messages would be required in the design in order to present considerations such as brand values, inspire involvement, or convert the visitor to make a purchase or sign up. These subtleties were extremely useful in guiding the content development process which now had a stern rationale for selection and authoring of relevant textual material.
Internal specifications were then developed to consolidate our learnings into structures that began to represent the user-experience.
Our use-cases and our functional deliverables were then able to be sorted, grouped, and labelled according to specific user needs. This process of refinement was undertaken with representatives from ANFTAS both in a marketing context and a membership development level.
The finished information architecture document contained references to layout templates that the final design solution would be required to resolve and also mapped user pathways through content.
Design reviews were undertaken for contemporary peers both in direct market comparisons and that of similar organisational structures. The benchmarking process validated a level of conformity that the user may have already been expecting, tested the perception of design appropriateness with decision makers, and also served to develop a field of reference for the intended solution. This important step ensured that their visual expectations were tabled and guided the application of the final design solution.
Brand / Identity study
Our creative team undertook an assessment of the ANFTAS brand and application of the identity in offline material. A streamlined style guide was developed to specifically deal with web utilisation of the brand. Again, this served to guide the final design solution and minimised any concerns about the path of creative development.
15 wireframes were produced to test and then finally specify the correct visual assets per unique page layout. This stage served to test anticipated user flow through the final solution and was undertaken by manually stepping through each use-case path between each wireframe and visualising the appropriate buttons and labels required.
The wireframes were carefully reviewed with ANFTAS and served to provide massive insight to ANFTAS about how their content would be developed and how functionality would work. The level of discussion in these workshops was very high and only possible due to the previous works ability to develop a logical path. In other words, everything leading up to the wireframe review served as a rational test case and justified the existence and intended prominance of any asset on the screen.
Lastly, all of the above was carefully picked apart and then matched to suitable technology, either an off-the-shelf plug-in, from custom libraries, or specified sufficiently that any new custom code could be developed.
This phase was completed by the supply of a full functional specification covering each method of storing the identified content and facilitating the identified functions. Functionality varied from aspects as simple as commenting on articles right through to the complexities of payment gateways, tiered secure content authoring, and shopping cart inventory management.
Upon completion of the 3 week process ANFTAS were ecstatic about the potential of the new solution and could visualise the entire solution in minute detail. This gave utter confidence to the ANFTAS management that their investment was being built to:
- provide a financial return,
- satisfy users, and
- ultimately form a cornerstone of their communications and membership development faculties.