Architecting a Website for the College of Engineering.
Research, User Experience
The College of Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University enlisted the help of Andculture to define an information architecture for all public-facing websites within the College. Our goal was to build consensus across the organization and identify and prioritize content that could be implemented by the College’s internal communications team.
We kicked off the project with a stakeholder workshop at the University. During this session, we asked stakeholders to write down primary audiences and messages on cards and prioritize them. The group’s collective contribution helped us establish a clear starting point and direction from the very beginning of the project. We spent the next three weeks conducting more than 25 interviews with professors, students, alumni, business partners and other staff throughout the College to understand the unique needs of each type of website user and potential use cases.
Synthesis is often a low-fidelity process that results in high-impact outcomes. Using a pinboard, we created a physical concept map to identify patterns and trends from our interview takeaways. This allowed us to collect insights and identify opportunity areas related to the website’s existing architecture and users’ needs. We used this synthesized information to determine which existing content to keep or eliminate, and where there was a need for new content.
Drawing from our synthesized research, we created site maps for each website type: College, department and center/office. Once the primary and secondary navigation levels were defined, we established the content hierarchy and weight within each section. The result was a collection of formalized information architecture diagrams that outlined a high-level sitemap and prioritizes the types of content within each section. Using the IA as a blueprint, we collaborated with the College’s creative director to wireframe VIP pages. The wireframing phase provided a clear hand-off between Andculture and the College of Engineering, as the final website was designed and developed in-house.