A complex university website merger which introduced COPE.

responsive2

Subject Area content formats enabled the organisation of university content by category rather than hierarchy. This radically reduced complexity and aligned with user needs.

Academic Unit content format

Academic Unit pages reused definitive content. This removed the hidden cost of deeply nested websites whilst improving content governance, quality and performance.

Client

City University London. A complex institution with fragmented digital content.

Project

Unifying two university schools — with 17,500 content items across 6 web servers — to create a solution that was aligned with user needs, structured content for reuse and responded across all devices.

Role

User Experience Architect

Team

A cross-university team:

  • Website Manager
  • Editor
  • Digital Designer
  • Front-end Developer

Methods

  • Stakeholder Interviews
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Content Auditing, Analysis
  • Analytics (web, click-stream, search)
  • Testing (guerrilla, remote and lab)
  • Content Modelling
  • Object-Orientated UX
  • Sketching, Wireframing
  • Co-design, Pairing

Headline Result

99.7% reduction in content through intelligent use of COPE princples.

Design Process

Understanding the problem
Modelling content for reuse
Pair-design and prototype testing
Build and migration planning
Launch and monitoring

Results

99.7% reduction in content
±17,500 content items, 6 webservers and 3 CMSs were responsibly retired.
Repurposable content formats and patterns
delivered improved readability, content governance and were designed around user needs.
Simpler and consistent
definitive content, dependable interfaces and user journeys improved findabiity and trust.
Enduring relationships
were established across university teams. These increased the effectiveness of my role on subsequent projects.

Lessons

Worked well

Co-location improved clarity, speed and frequency of communication. A permanent UX hot desk was set-up.

Pair-design enhanced creativity, the speed of iteration and helped to establish the new Digital Designer role.

Senior stakeholder engagement early — and throughout the project — was crucial to build the trust necessary for a radical change in design/p>

Insights

Transformation is slow. The full effect of a primarily category-based university site structure is dependent upon school-by-school re-designs.

HTML prototypes were great for rapid iteration, especially for responsive design. However, the fidelity of the mockups meant that some participants kept assuming they were final designs.

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