CRU is a business intelligence company, and they have an online platform which subscribers use to access articles and data about commodities based on research and expert knowledge from analysts. The company recognised the need to bring fresh user-centric thinking into the next evolution of the platform, and I have been working on this project for over 2 years.
Whilst it delivers a great deal of information to subscribers, CRU wanted to spend some time researching if there were any opportunities to increase customer satisfaction on the platform. Our consultancy partnered with CRU to carry out research using clients and internal stakeholders, to gain insights into how the service was meeting customer needs.
User Journeys and IA
We then analysed the user journeys for using the platform, and captured the pain points and opportunities we could see at each stage of the journey map. We could now see that, in order to help users get the information they needed faster and with clearer pathways, we needed to redesign the Information Architecture for the platform.
The platform was suffering from having a content model and Information Architecture that was a manifestation of the way customers were subscribing to information – not how they expected to find and use it. Content was being siloed in a strict hierarchy in the site, with a lot of cross publishing and duplication.
Redesigning the Content Model
Therefore we proposed to ‘flip’ the model upside down – we took the information found at the end of the branches and placed it ontop, using metadata to allow filtering using facets where users had a lot of subscriptions. This is harder than it sounds, due to the complexity of subscription models, but the whole team was onboard with the plan.
This allowed me to draft up a new IA sitemap for the platform, which we iterated through, before I started to create a wireframe prototype to communicate what the experience of navigating the site would be like.
Business Goals, Content Strategy and Metrics
As part of the work we also engaged with our client to start developing a formal documented content strategy. This can be a daunting task, but by breaking it down into a stepped process I helped the content team to realise their vision of where they wanted to go as a business that served their subscribers’ needs.
I then took the HEART analytics framework and within that we linked together the business goals, user needs and content strategy through to the metrics that would indicate successful outcomes for each area.
A major hurdle was identifying the best tools to measure these on the platform. The new iteration of Google Analytics has its drawbacks so we are working on a unified solution that addresses issues around accurate measurements, ease of use and segmentation across the entire platform.
We were also looking to bake in usability testing into our sprints, so that we would get early feedback from users, and get some early seeds growing for platform champions and changing the client mindset to a user-centred one.
Design and Agile build
Following all this work we then worked with a visual designer to create a new style and patterns for the platform. I wanted the Development team to feel fully involved, so they joined us through the design process, and we produced Adobe XD handoffs containing all the assets and specifications they would need to implement the new UI.
After that I worked closely with the development team to realise the vision whilst allowing for improvements to happen as part of moving into working code.
The roadmap has just begun
The initial launch was not the end of the story – far from it! The great aspect about working on a long-term project is that you can really make use of feedback from users, analytics and the business and continually use the iterative product lifecycle to improve the platform. So we are still continually:
- Pushing for more usability testing and further customer research
- Validating new feature ideas with customers
- Improving the core experience vs adding new features
- Onboarding and help strategies
- Refining our analytics and how we measure success
- Evolving and formalising the content strategy