Due to a sudden administrative decision, the University of Texas Linguistics Research Center website got revamped without any warning to the staff. The Center was worried that the new site wasn’t serving users, and understandably 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 the staff’s control, such as lesson copy.
Cognitive walkthrough, heuristic evaluation, usability script and survey consultation, wireframing.
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 the center’s higher-level staff.
In the meantime, I did a cognitive walkthrough and made some wireframes, advising the staff to use the mobile layout to force 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.