When a public institution wants a new website and there’s only a designer involved, he/she has to remind others that the visuals aren’t the only thing to care of
In may 2018 I had the opportunity to take part as Strategic UX Designer to the development of a new web portal for one of the main national public health institution in Italy. Their website’s last development was dated over ten years earlier and it hosted more than 10k articles.
While most of the participants saw the goal in a new layout, I shifted the process towards a whole solution, trying – as the only designer involved - to bring some Design Thinking into practice.
My approach was to understand the complex stakeholders scenario to define meaningful connections to create and preserve across the institution and each target group, towards an inclusive web design process together with outsourced consulting and development workforce.
A consistent amount of time was dedicated to get to know the institution trough its website, in order to learn more about its activities, target groups, kind of published documents and information, as well as feeling on my own the frustration a daily visitor had bacause of the outdated technology.
Following this sentence, you’ll see three iconic images: the website existing information architecture colored to highlight the content’s level of depth, the target group, and the spread of internal cross-linking to a specific page.
After one moth of research, mapping and brainstorming, I decided to not proceed straight with a solution, but to tell the way to follow to design the new website together. The complexity involved was the result of years of unchallenged problems.
Shaping and showing a one-designer-band apparent complete solution wouldn’t be a professional behavior. That’s way I turned the brief into a co-working process, directly involving the institution’s employee.
I started showing some simple sketches to visually identify the solution, both as a goal to achieve and as a set of technical components:
Once the team agreed to the plan, we moved step by step into defining guidelines for the new system architecture and relative requirements.
We started defining the multi database data aggregation, to be integrate into dynamic web-pages.
Aside of these aspects was the definition of target groups, kind of contents and data-types. A generic meta-structure of the page was also developed, in order to allow a flexible composition of the pages preserving a general family feeling, orientation and meaningfulness to for the visitor.
More specific technical aspects, like search suggestion, were also analyzed in order to scrum the non-meaningful/coherent ones and focus the team effort into valuable solutions to well framed issues.
Only after each technical and meta-structural aspect was defined, as well as the information architecture plan was clear, we started the development of the interface.
As we were dealing with a public institution, I suggested to took advantage of the good work of Designer’s Italia, who designed a complete design system for italian public institutions’ websites.
I designed some new custom elements specifically for this institution needs, then I printed everything on cardboard, giving shape to a tool which allowed the non-technical figures involved to have a sort of puzzle to visualize the actual outcomes of each page they had to replicate, supporting them into defining standards and preserve the quality work which was done on information and system architecture.
I apologize for the limited amount of material. Additional information aren’t open for public sharing.