Considering every user.
Universities are inherently some of the most complicated websites to architect. User audiences vary drastically, along with the types of information they need to access. Prospective and current students, alumni, faculty, staff and others need to be considered and guided clearly through a web of unique paths. For Hamline University, this challenge was primary in the redesign of its website.
Initially, Hamline set out to produce its own UX, while Azul 7 was asked to handle design and our colleagues at Fusion Room would develop the new Hamline.edu. However, shortly after the start of the project, once we gained a better understanding of the scope of the task and the high level of flexibility needed, architecture was reassigned to the Azul 7 team.
A component-based architecture.
Creating an intuitive environment for visitors to the site meant understanding each of our audience’s needs and building paths to accommodate them. Our IA team developed user personas to represent each group and created stories and scenarios to map the flow of each visitor through the site. With dramatic differences in user goals for faculty and staff, existing students and prospective students, several distinct experiences needed to be crafted.
In order to provide a simplified, targeted means of communication with different audiences, we developed a component-based site architecture. We organized all content types into modules and designed an interface that supports any number of module combinations. The result is the flexibility to consistently update the site, target different audiences at any time and maintain complete consistency throughout.
Improving the administrative experience.
The component-based architecture also helped ease administrative issues. At Hamline, we were faced with a larger number of stakeholder groups who contributed content to the existing site in an outdated CMS. This led to a confusing, unintuitive website that failed to meet the needs of its users. In the component-based environment, we were able to give Hamline staff the flexibility to change as much or as little content as needed, at any time. With a new CMS, administrators can log in and quickly swap an entire module of content on their department page without interrupting the system or the design.
A successful strategy.
User testing for Hamline.edu generally served to confirm our assumptions about various user groups. We were, however, able to correct the effects of a seemingly small decision to rename a frequently used section of the site. Along with small adjustments, students confirmed that we made significant improvements to structure, allowing them to more easily find information relevant to their interest areas and improving the representation of the Hamline experience, online.
Better user, administrator and brand experiences.
Contact us to talk more about how human-centered design can help your brand.