The intention of Partner Pages are to serve several business roles for Capella University within one website experience – they present specific offers available only to that partner, provide a dedicated landing spot to drive sales conversations, serve the role of driving the user into deeper content, each partner has specific custom content that needs to be shown to just their users, the page needs to act as a simple gate way for employees to easily refer colleagues to the university, and these pages act as a lead generator.
Initial user testing showed that users were overwhelmed with the amount of content being presented to them, the users were not using the pages as the business intended, the business needs were not being delivered upon, and the content had a huge drop off – users were not driving deeper into content as desired. A re-design effort was funded and a project created to solve the problem of these 500+ unique websites of the university’s ecosystem.
My strategic recommendation was to:
- Analyze the current 500+ examples from three main business verticals to determine themes and commonalities, as well as understanding of the maintenance processes to support this many unique websites.
- Thorough analysis and conversations with the business fully identify the business requirements for this digital property and document hierarchy to the business objectives.
- Complete simple user studies to determine how the current pages are being used, confirm known and perceived issues with the business and understand user motivation (versus perceived motivations).
- Understand the current traffic patterns of the users in this ecosystem.
- Design a new AEM template that would allow for all website formats regardless of business channel type or customization for a specific partner.
- Design a simple content format that could be maintained easily and provide significant maintenance savings for the support team while delivering on the business objectives of the university.
- Design a page layout and content plan that supports the business objectives of the website(s).
- Test the design concepts to confirm that both business and user needs would be met.
PROCESS PATH TO IMPROVEMENT
Analyzing the current situation and documenting what we were trying to solve was critical to this project. Everyone needed to be on the same page on what was the real and current situation so that we could propose business solutions that would solve those problems.
User Experience then hosted a series of brainstorming session with Creative Design, Copy Writers, technology teams, the business and support team(s) where we:
- reviewed all the existing pages, content and design,
- created a new high-level content plan,
- used sticky note process to re-prioritize the content,
- created new page plans and page hierarchy around the newly prioritized content, and
- listed overall design standards that we desired in the new page layouts.
Using this planning information, User Experience built wire frames for an AEM template, page layout and content plans. We confirmed with the business that the new designs met their business objectives, confirmed with technology that the template was able to be built and supported their long term vision, and met with Creative Design and Content Writer teams to outline the new experience plan.
With all teams now engaged, UX turned to a monitoring role to ensure that creative designs, content and page mock-ups were in line with the desired state and maintained the business objectives defined. UX also documented the new processes needed to support the new websites and trained existing staff on how to map existing content to the new page designs.
As a result of the implemented strategic recommendations, we:
- Confirmed user expectations were not being met and identified what users and the business needed these specific websites to accomplish.
- Designed an AEM template that was both supportable by development and within their long-term strategic vision for AEM.
- Designed a concept of pre-determined copy blocks that could be mixed-and-matched by the support team and pages easily created to support the specific partner relationship thus reducing maintenance costs and improving speed to market for a new partner or changes to an existing partner business relationship.
- Confirmed through user testing that the new design was more effective and engaging to the user, was easy to navigate and provided the business all of their required functionality to support the partner relationships.
- Created an easy and repeatable process to map existing websites into the new design format while supporting the new content strategy.
Working together as a team we were able to improve the websites for the user, return needed functionality to the business so they could build upon their existing partner relationships and provide an experience that improved user engagement. The enhancements also lead to proven process improvements being implemented, reduced costs, provided better strategic alignment to technology plans and established new ways of collaborating across functional teams with diverse business objectives and leadership goals.
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ROLE: UX Strategy
UX TEAM: Matthew Luken and Nathan Diebel
Image 1: Concept sketch of what Partner Page could look like
Image 2: Concept sketch of content blocking
Image 3: Content block designs with different content versions shown
Image 4: Partner Page concept design