Case Study by Jessica Murray RGD, Akendi
OMA (Ontario Medical Association) works for medical professionals across Ontario representing their political, clinical and economic interests. Advocating for the wellbeing and success of its members is part of their core business. The project was initiated by OMA to refresh their website, improve member impressions of the Association and improve usability.
Akendi worked with OMA to redesign the website’s information architecture, interaction design and visual design. Prior to the redesign, use of the website among OMA members was lower than desired and members reported that a large portion of the content on the site was outdated and hard to find. Members felt that the website could provide more value and better support for their work.
Akendi’s research team started this project by conducting an inventory of the existing content on the website to determine what should be carried over to the new site. The team also undertook card sorting research to guide the information structure for the new site.
Once the site’s architecture was complete, Akendi conducted a series of stakeholder workshops to identify key users and capture the usage scenarios that would be translated to wireframes. A brief survey was sent to OMA members to identify pain points and primary uses of the existing website. With the information gathered from the survey and from stakeholder workshops, initial prototypes were designed and tested with real users.
Three visual concepts were created for OMA. These concepts explored different aspects of the Association but also different aspects of what is like to be a doctor. The visual concepts focused on three key goals for the site: to provide resources and tools for members, to showcase stories from doctors and to highlight the sense of pride in being a member and a doctor.
The following three concepts were presented to OMA:
- "SHOWCASING OUR PRIDE”, focusing on member stories
- “A DOCTOR’S PASSION”, a grassroots approach focusing on why doctors become doctors
- “THERE’S MORE TO THE OMA”, highlighting the wealth of information and resources the OMA offers its members.
After these options were presented, the OMA outlined their favourite aspects of each concept, which were then captured in the final design. After the visual concept was established, adaptive templates and custom icons were created for desktop, tablet and mobile breakpoints. This gave OMA a foundation from which to build their complete website.
It is part of OMA's mandate to be accessible to all people. Akendi had to closely consider all elements of the design and ensure that they met web accessibility standards.The updated OMA website is compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
OMA members wanted to see actual OMA doctors in the visuals, but a custom photo shoot was out of scope for the Akendi team. To resolve this issue, Akendi used images selectively and used overlays to unify the images and create texture, bringing visual interest to the website.
Content on the website was organized by departments, but members were not aware of the organizational structure when they visited the site and often had trouble locating information. It was important for the client to understand and accept an information architecture based on user needs, rather than organizational hierarchy.
The client was aware of difficulty in finding content on site, as well as large amount of rot (redundant, outdated or trivial content). The following services were rendered to improve the IA: content audit, card sort to define IA, stakeholder interviews and workshops.
The client wanted to demonstrate the value of membership by showcasing all the resources available, but had to ensure that a good portion of the information was restricted only to members. The final information architecture was a balancing act between the public and private sides of the site. This was addressed by providing visibility and sampling a portion of the members-only content, but only providing full access to members who were signed in to the site.
OMA has been able to update their brand and begin to change member perceptions of the Association. Redesigning the information architecture and interaction design has allowed OMA to make their site easier to navigate, allowing users to move through it more efficiently to complete their tasks. The visual design of the site creates a welcoming and meaningful place for users to visit and explore.
- Nothing is impossible; there is always a way around roadblocks like imagery and accessibility. Work with the problem, not against it.
- Research is essential, not optional. Put in the time to understand real users before moving to design. Gaining a deeper understanding of what users need from the site, rather than working only from the opinions of internal stakeholders will allow designers to create beautiful, user-centric designs.
- Push the client to elevate their user experience. Collaboration between designers and clients will improve the outcome of the project and might even land you more work in the future.
- When creating a content-heavy site with a lot of pages, a visual style guide and content guide is a good way to transfer knowledge and give guidelines on how to implement the design. Guides also help aid in making new pages and adding new content to the site.
- When working with a complex information architecture, clients should consider developing a strategy for enforcing content governance, otherwise the site may return to the state where information is difficult to locate. It is important to ensure that content that is pushed to the website aligns with the content guide, and the defined IA, to prevent the reoccurrence of content that is poorly managed.
Creative Direction by: Athena Herrmann
Interaction Design/Research by: Cindy Beggs, Daniel Iaboni, Lisa Min, Foong Ling Chen
Visual Design by: Jessica Murray RGD
Jessica is a visual designer at Akendi, helping her clients improve digital experiences though beautiful & useable user centred design.