One of the main projects that I was working on with the UC Davis Information and Technology service was a complete redesign of their website's homepage. With a high bounce rate and cluttered list of obsolete resources, the website was not very user-friendly for the UC Davis community that it catered to. My objective was to gather research on current web trends, conduct usability tests and surveys with the UC Davis community, and construct a feasible redesigned homepage that was more organized and relevant based on the feedback that we gathered throughout the project.
My first step in this project was gathering data from other universities' IT homepages. As I went through 25 external IT homepages, I maintained a spreadsheet of items and services that were found, content layouts and visuals, and whether these websites were successful in providing resources in a concise and understandable web format.
After my initial independent research, we expanded our source of data gathering by reaching out to our UC Davis community, which consists of students, faculty, staff, and IT providers.
I shared an online survey asking students what sorts of resources and links they would be interested in using on the new IT homepage. By promoting the survey through the university's mailing lists and social media, we were able to gather 100 students to take our survey.
Referencing Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think, I put together a usability testing script that I would be presenting to the students, faculty, staff, and IT providers for in-person focus groups. These meetings would allow me to reach out directly to the UC Davis community and find out what services they needed and what could be improved in terms of the IT website's user-friendliness.
Based on our research and user feedback, we learned about an insightful perspective to the user-friendliness of the IT homepage. Most of the users also agreed that the website's aesthetic was very outdated and contributed to the lack of trust in staying on the site.
Interestingly, the staff and IT providers we interviewed thought that they needed a separate page which contained content that was specifically for their needs, not students. On the other hand, students and faculty members interviewed felt that navigating through the website was unnecessarily complicated and the information itself seemed to be tailored to a more technical audience. If no one in our target audience thought that the website was for them, then who was it for?
Based on the feedback and data gathered from the focus groups and usability tests, I designed a mockup homepage that is more user-friendly and contains content that is relevant to all audience types of the UC Davis community. There are separate taps for each audience type (student/faculty/staff/IT provider), which filters the content so that it better caters to the specific user. The top navigation bar is also simplified so that dropdown menus hide additional content, which a user can see if they choose to. Overall, the info is presented in a concise manner and visual aids in the form of icons and colored sections are added for a functional aesthetic. With the new updated website, the Information and Educational Technology team will be able to promote transparency between their user clients and their provider teams.