Fine-tuning a school's website
Based on a recent usability testing and guidlines by GovTech, the school’s website was falling short of meeting the site visitors’ expectations. Some of the most pressing problems identified were:
Navigational system lacks bread crumbs (users get lost while navigating) Main navigation tab doesn't give users the ability to see the subpages easily
Absence of the search function across pages
Based on a short guerrilla interview with 12 parents who were around the school premises while they wait for their children to finish school, I sum up their common behaviours.
- They look for the information they need and then exit the site after that.
- They already know what they want to look for before visiting the site.
- They hardly linger around on the site after finding what they need
- They rely mostly on their mobile phones. In fact, all 12 interviewees use their mobile phones for that purposes.
- 8 out of 12 of them browse the homepage for latest happenings and calendar events.
- Average time spent on site is about 3 to 5 minutes.
Analytics also helped confirm the time spent by the users as well. Out of the 102 sessions, the average time spent per session is about 3min 54s.
Based on analytics of the website, I was also able to breakdown the pages with the highest traffic on the site:
-About Us/Our Staff
These pages are crucial pages as they contain the bulk of information that a parent would want to know regarding the school and for their child. E.g. to be able to find contact info or to find the email address of the teacher who is teaching their child.
Analytics also provided an insight on how much of the browsing was done on which platform. In the month of October, out of 102 sessions:
- Mobile took up 40.20%
- Tablet took up 4.90%
- Desktop took up 54.90
As mobile and tablet account for 45.10% in all, this puts the website in a disadvantage because the site currently doesn’t support a responsive design. A lack of responsive design means the site can’t scale properly for a mobile device, thus affecting user experience. E.g. users have to manually pan around and to scale the website themselves to fit their device. When they load a new page, they have to do it again and this distracts the user from reaching his or her goal.
Goals for the project:
Mobile responsive website.
New design that takes advantage of full screen on a desktop browser
Improve the navigation
Improve the pages with the highest traffic
Wire-framings and full mockups of site
The following contains wireframes and mockups of the redesigned pages with the highest traffic. A search field is now available on every page consistently at the same place. Navigational breadcrumbs are also available to help the users know where they are at any time. On mobile, because of space constrain, the breadcrumbs is limited to 1 step back to the previous level. All pages are designed to be mobile-friendly as well. For the colour scheme, I have decided to go with the two main colours used in the school logo - blue and red. Against a white background, the blue and red hues serve as accent colours. Text colour are not pure blacks, but rather cod grey (#111111) as they are more suitable and less jarring on the eyes.
1. The Home Page
The Home Page is the most important as it is the first page that a visitor sees. Thus a good first impression must be established here. The site must be usable on both desktop and mobile.
Old Home Page:
- non-mobile friendly
- navigation bar lacks dropdown for easy access to the subpages
- Announcement and news are limited to 4 on the homepage
- Other links at the bottom of the page lack signifiers that they can be clicked on
New Home Page:
- mobile friendly
- navigation bar contains dropdown for easy access to subpages. Navigation bar displays prominently where users are at via breadcrumbs.
- Announcement/news section is now a carousel, saving space and allowing more news and announcements to be uploaded at one time.
- Homepage includes links to a couple of pages with high traffic.
- Links to parent and student resources are added too to aid parents and students.
The Departments page has been revamped to allow visitors to see all the departments in the school from a bird's eye view. Breadcrumbs are added as well so users know where they are at any time. Since departments are staffed by school personnels, I have also added a link to Our Staff page.
Department view in browser and also mobile
When users click on a department, the entirety of the page's content will be shown. Unlike the old design where the content of each heading is hidden unless clicked. When users reach the end of the page, they will see a link to the next department. This is added as I didn't want the page to reach a dead end at the bottom.
Hi Fidelity wireframes of Department_English
3. About US - Staff
About Us page has been revamped to minimise unnecessary scrolling down the page. In the old design, if the visitor's child is in level P6, he or she has to scroll all the way down. In the new design, the 6 levels (P1 to P6) are spread across in a carousel. Users will only need to click on the arrow button to reach their desired level instead of having to do lots of scrolling. On mobile, they just swipe across the carousel to see the different levels or they can use the on-screen arrow button.
4. Contact Us
Besides merely just having the information for visitors to contact the school, visitors can now enquire about anything by leaving a message, saving the users' time without having to copy the email address and send the email from another browser tab or mail client. If users do not wish to send a message, information to contact the school is still available along with directions for getting to the school.
5. Information and downloads
For "Information and Downloads" page, a toggle bar allows viewers to switch between information and downloads. For examples, some events involving the use of slides will be uploaded to the Downloads section for visitors to download.
After showing the re-designed site to parents on a mobile phone:
- They are happy with the mobile-responsive website and also a new look since the website’s design hasn’t been updated in years. They also like the clean look of the site, saying it looks “refreshing” to finally have a change.
- They also feedback that it’s so much easier to find a link to the gallery of the latest event in school or to simply see all the galleries, since they are now located on the Home page.
- Another feedback was the ability to easily see the upcoming events with the information such as date and time, so they know when to fetch their children after a certain event. Because of its location, parents say it’s harder for them to miss the details.
- Remarked that the new Homepage is more useful than ever as it provides all the necessary and useful links to information
- They pointed out about the hamburger menu at the top left. Because it is located just beside the school logo (brings you back to Home page when clicked), they clicked on the school logo by accident when they intended to click the Menu button.
- They also mentioned that if the page “Information” contains both “information and Downloads” in 1 page, perhaps I should rename “Information” to “Information & Downloads” in the main navigational bar. They get confused when they are in that page as the page’s name suggests “Information” but yet offers Downloads as well.