Design, Content Strategy and Accessibility:

The Arc of Dallas / Ft. Worth

The objective

We assessed the clients needs for service delivery and coordinated the redesign of the online presence to provide a solution that will grow as their needs evolve.

My role

I collaborated with a team of two other senior UX, a junior designer, a developer and a remote senior UX Researcher who specialized in accessibility acting as a team mentor.

I managed the formulation of project deliverables, resource allocation and the clients needs and expectations while focusing on delivering value to the end users.

Responsible for requirements elicitation, contributing to design generation and evaluations, leading content strategy implementation and coordinating site development and deployment.

Services Provided

  • Product Management

  • Content Strategy

  • UX Research

  • UI Development

Problem Statement

The clients' site requires a complete content strategy, design and technology refresh.

  • Content is difficult to discover and not organized.
  • Design lacks consistency and appeal.
  • Technology platform is difficult to maintain and update.
  • Technology platform impedes successful interaction by key user groups, lacks a mobile experience. 

The Arc is a national organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Regional chapters acts in local ways to sustain that purpose as well as facilitate supporting programs which provides training and advocacy resources for families and individuals.

Conversations with the client surfaced frustrations that arose from lacking a dedicated web services support resource available to the organization. The desire to provide authoritative and accessible knowledge and services for the target audience would require a inventory and strategic alignment of the content. 

The content strategy would drive the design. The feature set would be informed by addressing the visitors needs and marrying them to the areas of service delivery The ARC believed it could best provide. 

Discovery

01

Purpose

Through discussions with the client, reviewing the environment the non-profit operated within and assessing the content inventory, we framed a understanding of the mission and vision for the website and the purpose it would serve.

02

Users

Different target audiences and visitor personas bring distinct needs and varying expectations, all of which require consistent, vetted solutions.

03

Content Audit

A deep catalog of written resources exists from  numerous authors that needs to be re-factored to provide a consistent brand voice. 

Existing content stretches across numerous delivery channels in different forms.

04

Technology

The legacy CMS lacked responsive rendering capabilities for mobile, could not be scaled easily to adjust for a effective content delivery, depended upon rendering methods that made it impossible for non-tech savvy users to update and was difficult for lay persons to upgrade functionally.

Technology restraints were hampering their ability to effectively induce donations and increase membership conversion via the web site.

05

Design

The legacy site failed to connect visually with the audience and stood in the way of inducing exploration of the websites contents.

When design is driven by content, aesthetics can be leveraged to create visual hierarchy in harmony with the information and purpose of a site.

Client Uptake Interviews

The team sent the client a uptake survey to help kick start information collection.

I interviewed the client to find out what was important to them and their audience. We discussed the customer experience, operational and technical challenges they were facing.

I explored the organizations formation and history. I probed for impressions and opinions to gain a perspective of how they wanted the website to help the organization here and now, as well as what they envisioned they would want the site to help them to achieve going forward.

We agreed on a strategy that would make the best use of the limited time line we currently had that would set them up for success once the team stepped away.

Site Goals

Align the current repository of materials with the organizations mission so visitors  can successfully interact with the content, engage with the services the organization offers and become involved with supporting The Arc's mission.

Improve the site information architecture to make content searchable and discoverable. 

Create a aesthetically pleasing interface which  represents the expertise and authority of subject matter of the The Arc brand.

Deploy a technology platform the client can maintain and grow independently. 

Implement best practices of inclusive design, accessible code and progressive enhancements where possible to create a experience that is more usable for all prospective visitors.

The target audience is comprised of Individuals & families with Intellectual  and Developmental Disabilities  (IDD).

Solutions and techniques must be employed that address these target audiences. This means a focus on incorporating accessibility best practices into every aspect of the visitor experiences.

Improved user experience for visitors requiring special accommodations creates a better experience for all visitors.

Honor the mission of The Arc, to serve this audience in ways that show that someone understands what questions they are going to have when faced with the challenges associated with IDD.

The Arc is supported by dedicated people, and that community is there to support and be the someone that has answers and can help navigate to and surface resources.

Someone to ask, "How to get answers?"

We would identify key content types the organization had command of and create a technical solution that would enable them to populate out pages on their site to grow their content offerings.

Create technical solutions to address needs such as ways to make a donation and improve membership sign up online.

 

Content Audit

The team indexed the back catalog of articles that existed in various digital formats. 

Content is disseminated to audiences across other channels such as social media outlets.

We used tools such as word clouds, brain writing exercises and topical association maps to identify what subjects the content aligned with currently.

These exercise helped us chunk out were content had been successful and opportunities for where the client could focus creating content that would best align with their goals.

Content Inventory Exercises


Mind Mapping exercise lead by Senior Designer with input from across the team. This exercise helped to create a mental model of where the content that existed aligned categorically. 

Researching comparative agencies for IA and design

I researched the national instance of The Arc as well as numerous instances of regional chapters and other non-profits that served disabled communities.

I documented successful as well as problematic navigation hierarchies that reflected the various agencies information architecture.

I presented the comparisons to the team, showing strengths that we could replicate were content and functional parallels could be modeled. I created a small data set of navigation labels and their corresponding landing pages. 

 

Parsing the commonly occurring themes for correlation as content domains of the site.

Bundling and reducing instances of subject repetition to produce a durable information architecture.

Solidifying the Information Architecture

I co-led a exercise with a another UX to produce a first iteration of the new Information Architecture.

Exploring IA iterations to improve content discovery.

Sharing the IA repo in MIRO as a referential source of truth for our subsequent design direction.

 

CMS Selection

With the progress we had made on the site hierarchy and identifying functional silos the client would need, we were able to select a content management system.

Our considerations 

  • Long term manageability by the client.
  • Ability to include accessibility in the front end with moderate development investment.
  • Scale-ability for functionality.
  • Scale-ability for content strategy growth.

Design Research

I evaluated numerous other sites evaluating the way they handled visitor interactions.

Volunteer and Membership Elicitation.

Encouraging visitors to join the organization increases visibility as well as resources that can be called upon to promote events and staff events.

Increase Donations Conversion.

Funding is a important part of ongoing maintenance and growth for the agency. Reducing friction in the donations flow and installing a tool set that increases engagement of the conversion funnel through completion is a high priority.

Escalate Participation in Events.

Community Engagement, Training and Advocacy are core mission goals for The Arc. Improving cross channel functionality as well as interaction touch points on site that increase the efficacy of these key areas requires deliberate design decisions.

Design

The design was assigned to the Junior Designer. I provided feedback and guidance along with the other two UX Designers on iterative versions. 

I presented the comps to the client for feedback and testing and worked with  the design team to iterate changes, fidelity and modifications towards a more polished set of wire frames.

Figma Mobile Navigation Prototype

  • Provides expected major navigation way points via drawer menu on mobile.

  • Home page - major nav way point hyperlinks in "main".

  • Single error state example "Donations" page.

  • Prototyped in Figma.

Menu Annotation Example

 

"in situations when the parent menu item needs to carry out a function, such as linking to a web page, a separate button can be added to the parent item, to open and close the submenu. This button can also act as a visual indicator for the presence of a submenu."

Local Pre-Prod Repo

(Opens in new window)

Takeaway


The redesigned The Arc of Dallas / Ft. Worth site was submitted for the 2019 Knowbility AIR Rally.

Out of 27 international teams that began the competition and 15 of which submitted a completed submission, our team took 3rd place overall.

  • I continue to volunteer technical and design support to the organization in my spare time. I really value learning about the services this organization provides as well as the learning opportunities presented during this project.