The new corporate website was going to look completely different. So I wanted to make the support section, including the FAQs, look and feel like the rest of the site. The goal was to ensure that users didn't feel like they were in a foreign place when they visited any of the support pages from the main menu. It was also important to structure the content so people could find it easily.
Existing users, the technical support team, and potential customers were important stakeholders.
I was responsible for conducting research, creating the information architecture, and testing.
The marketing team hired a web development agency to build the new site. That agency used a Magento template that dictated the layout.
I applied the design thinking framework to create an effective information architecture.
Here's a look at the step-by-step process I used to understand users, define the problem, come up with solutions, prototype those solutions, and test things.
For this exercise, I created 22 cards with various tasks that users had to group and label. The goal was to understand the mental models users employed to find content. I recruited 15 participants.
Optimal Workshop's browser-based tool allowed me to analyze the card sorting exercise. The dark squares shown in the similarity matrix above indicate the percentage of users who grouped the two adjacent tasks together. For example, 88% of participants would go to the same place to download the Aqua TROLL 600 quick-start guide as they would to read the pH sensor instruction sheet.
I built a prototype of In-Situ's support menu with Optimal Workshop according to the results of the card sorting exercise. If I understood the results correctly, a tree test would show that the menu was easy to navigate.
12 participants completed the 20-task tree test. 92% of them were successful at all 20 tasks, but one person abandonded the study. 100% of participants succeeded at 9 of the tasks on the first attempt. That means they clicked the right menu option the first time.
Card sorting and tree testing were helpful tools, although I now realize that the way I judged the success of the menu prototype was arbitrary. What if the conversion rate had been 75%? I'm sure I would have redesigned the menu, tested again, and repeated the process until I reached 90%. But it would be wise to research and come up with a target next time.
In addition, my knowledge and experience with design thinking have increased since I completed this project. If I were to do it again, I'd organize my data about users into personas, journey maps, and user stories. Why not make something that provides benefits for future projects?
Hundreds of people view the FAQs every year, and most of them get there via a link from the technical support team. That's because each caller gets a survey via email after talking with Support, and that survey links to the FAQs. However, most visitors to In-Situ.com/support come to view or download documentation.
You can see the information architecture I came up with below, as well as some annual stats.