ICC Website & CMS Redesign
a photograph of banners from an ICC house in 1984.
The Inter-Cooperative Council of Ann Arbor (ICC) is a student housing cooperative serving university students in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their website provides prospective, current, and past members with information including ICC membership, services, leadership operations, and community news/events.
When I began working for the ICC as The User Experience and Website Coordinator, I had three years of experience with the organization from living in one of their cooperative houses and being a board member (see my house below).
I was hired to lead the redesign of the ICC's website and content management system in accordance with their strategic plans. I facilitated design thinking deep dives to iterate prototypes throughout the design process.
Stakeholder Interviews & Surveys
I began my work by conducting stakeholder interviews with the central leadership. My questions were focused on understanding how the website and other information portals either helped or prevented users from achieving their goals. I interviewed the ICC President, Committee Vise Presidents, Staff members, and house leadership. I took special notice when informants serving different roles and commitment levels in the organization expressed similar pain points.
I synthesized these needs with responses from a survey we sent to ICC members.
A few of the patterns that emerged from this were that most users visited our site to pay their "charges" (a payment by members that goes toward the upkeep of the house, utilities, and food).
Recruitment and Retention committee (ReCo) had been tasked by the board of director's Strategic Plan to oversee the website redesign project, so I regularly attended their meetings. At the meetings, I utilized James P Spradley's Ethnographic methods from "The Ethnographic Interview". I tried to understand the cultural scene and the jargon of the centrally involved members. So, when I reported research findings to ReCo, I used their jargon to describe their cultural scene. ReCo's feedback helped verify that I was accurately understanding the cultural landscape and the perspective of those in it.
Here is a link to my Project plan summary & Steps document I created
I developed a user requirements matrix based on what I learned from interviews. This artifact helped staff and I verify that we were on the same page about the vision of the ICC website.
I met with stakeholders to target our primary, secondary and tertiary users and therefore focus the design on real user needs and behavior.
These personas were modeled off of people I knew from the Coops and the user requirements we eventually agreed upon. After much discussion, we decided our primary persona was a current member and secondary persona was a prospective member.
Content Audit: Consolidating ICC Intranets
Another aspect to the project that I worked on simultaneously was the ICC's Intranet. The ICC, like many organizations was struggling to manage their assets and records. Information was scattered among the website, private email addresses, a server at the office, the google drive, paper files at the office, and a financial CMS.
Below is a summary of pain points, our recommendations and some of the models we created while generating solutions.
In summary, I and the member services coordinator architected and migrated the ICC's data to google drive and created role based accounts to preserve institutional knowledge.
Leadership turnover happens four time a year leading to lost data and delayed access to timely information because new leaders don't always gain access to all their predecessor's content
Version control is a constant battle because content isn't linked to all the places it is locally stored
Stakeholders have no ability to query assets and records for daily operations
Create google email accounts based on roles: Sharing permissions get inherited rather than requested.
Migrate ICC operational assets to GoogleDrive: Important documents that are regularly referenced and updated are easily accessible, searchable, and up to date.
Website Information Architecture
The research revealed the much needed improvement of the architecture and navigation of the website.
Below is a carousel of screenshots from the old website. While the content was invaluable, it was difficult for current members to find what they needed and content became quickly outdated because the site was maintained by a part-time staff member.
When improving the architecture, I didn't completely start all over with the navigation, understanding that previous users would be using their learned knowledge of the site when interacting with this new, future site.
Below is a model I created to show to the member services director. I color coded nodes to highlight that current members were responsible for content across multiple sections.
Analyzing the old site architecture led me to rename some of the topics into more understandable terminology for the ICC's target audience, student members.
With the help of ReCo and the website team, we moderated around 3 sprints of open and closed card sorting exercises with a total of 20 ICC members, new and old. We asked members to organize the topics into their own categories that they would name later.
This is the current footer
Wireframes & Mockups
Alongside working on the architecture (I'm an awesome project juggler), I worked on redesigning the homepage of the website. Using comparative analysis notes & stakeholders interviews, I brainstormed some wireframes, and with some feedback from the ReCo and web team, I then started creating hi-fi mockups of home page.
This is a higher fidelity mockup of the homepage. I tested various navigation schemes in these mockup designs.
Usability Test Ideas
This test plan was developed to aid the ReCo and I to test the usability of the new website's interface.
Due to the constant updating of website data and our budget, I recommended that the ICC use a Content management system managed by a local company instead of developing a custom application. This would enable stakeholders to regularly update the website without needing to submit changes to a specially trained content editor. The ICC's need for regular updates and their complex relational data, led me to recommend WordPress.
We hired a company to develop our Wordpress theme. As we began the development of the website, I regularly met with the company's developer to rely the ICC's needs to him.
I left the ICC in the middle of the this process. I felt happy about the improved usability of the ICC's information.