I served as the lead content strategist for the Event Management redesign project. WashU’s Event Management website was in one of the university’s oldest Sharepoint themes. It was difficult for users to learn about spaces or rent them as well as a struggle for staff members to update content on the site. We decided that the site was an excellent candidate for the new WordPress theme that had been developed earlier that year. A review of the analytics revealed that the site had significant traffic to wedding information as well as to spaces that Event Management staff had not expected. During the discovery meeting, several key issues were identified, particularly that it was difficult for end-users to sort through events to find the right event for them in their price point; spaces and space-specific content lived in multiple places across the site; and once the end-users had found a space, they had to search for it all over again in the Reserve-A-Space database, a difficult-to-use, third-party system.
Based on our findings, we iterated on the information architecture in a number of meetings. Using the drag-and-drop theme, we were able to prototype and adjust the site structure in real time, which allowed the Event Management staff to visualize the site structure rather than being force to think about the site structure conceptually.
Content and Design
Once the IA was fairly set, I performed a content audit and then moved the content through several stages of composition and revision with the campus partners and subject experts. The content audit format I developed for this project, though low-budget, worked extremely well and was a vast improvement upon earlier formats.
At the same time, I built out components of the site, designing the layout of the pages and determining how the content should be displayed. Again, the drag-and-drop functionality made quick layout changes simple. Debates about different layouts were easily resolved by displaying both options.
I was able to solve many of the problems involved with finding information about spaces by using a masonry structure and sorting functionality that our team had created for the theme. Users could sort spaces by categories and immediately see whether or not the space was premier (expensive).
When the user clicks into the space, s/he can see all of the policies and specific information. If the user is ready to book, s/he can click a button to go directly to the space listing in the Reserve-A-Space system.
We wrapped up by adding search engine descriptions, 301 redirects and performing QA. The Dining Services communications staff was given a full training of how to use the tool. Since they had seen it in action during meetings and had limited use of it during the redesign, they had little trouble adopting the theme. As a result, support requests have been very low.
One of my main critiques of this project is that we didn’t obtain end-user feedback early enough. We ultimately received positive feedback and increased traffic to the site, but it was primarily done using our best judgement based on best-practices served. I know that there are still sections of the site where the user experience could be improved. Particularly, the “Find A Space” experience would be an excellent candidate for user testing.