The Linguistics Research Center at the University of Texas had a website which the University revamped without warning. The Center’s staff were worried that the new site wasn’t serving their needs, and frustrated over their lack of control.
Working with the stakeholders, we determined that the first priority was the language lessons, and that we should focus on the aspects of the site under their control, such as copy.
In my initial review, I found that the URL structure and navigation weren’t very clear, and there was too much noise on the website — two things the staff could easily change.
I suggested doing user interviews first and foremost, and created a basic usability script for the Center’s intern to use; in a university setting, we decided that it would be helpful to have interviews conducted by a peer, rather than a person in authority.
In the meantime, I made some wireframes, and advised them to use the mobile layout to make hard decisions about content priority.
I also discussed long-term plans to make a more stable digital artifact. Working with the head researcher and tech contact, I suggested that the best technical solution would be to get the lesson data cleaned and into a format that would allow flexibility in publishing, beyond what their homegrown CMS allowed. This would also open up the possibility of open sourcing the project, and thus having more resources at their disposal.