P2. NYU Site Redesign

Content Strategy and Information Architecture

One School’s Problem Is My Opportunity

The brief I received had a bunch of words on it spread out across 3-pages, front and back. There were deadlines, deliverables, and background information — but all I saw was a chance to take something that made people feel not-so-great and make it into something that makes them feel a whole lot better.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

Redesign the information architecture and the content strategy around an experience for users of NYU’s website.

The Intel

When I found out that user research had already been done, I let out a tiny sigh of relief. That means I can spend more time designing, right?


Meet Jessica, John, and Mark.

These three personas were given to me by the client (NYU).

The Arsenal

  1. Omnigraffle
  2. Sketch
  3. InVision
  4. Numbers
  5. Keynote

First Checkpoint: Competitive & Comparative Analysis

(Left) Content Inventory of NYU’s Home Page | (Middle) Element Analysis Between NYU and 3 Competitor Schools | (Right) Heuristic Evaluation of NYU’s Home Page
(Top Left): NYU | (Top Right): Columbia | (Bottom Left): Fordham | (Bottom Right): Pace

Conducting competitive and comparative analyses was beneficial in figuring out where NYU currently stands and where it can improve. However, this information wasn’t enough grounds for me to make any claims and to start designing.

Second Checkpoint: Open and Closed Card Sorting

I’ll be honest with you, I felt bad asking people to participate in my card sorts. There were so many cards! If I struggled to cut them out and make them, I wonder how these people felt sorting them out..

First open card sort with a current NYU student.
“This is so hard. There are so many things and they can all belong to more than one category.”

Too much information. There was just too much for the user to sort through. Seeing all of those cards all at once was way too overwhelming. So, what did I do? I overwhelmed 2 more people!

Second open card sort.
  • First mention of redundancy and duplicates.
  • “ Minimize and deduct.”
  • “The way things are labeled is super important. It’s the quickest way of figuring things out.”
Third open card sort. Yours truly featured in red.
  • “There are so many choices.”
  • Second mentioning of an overload of information.
  • Second mentioning of redundancy and duplicates.

After having 3 card sorts done, I decided to look at the information I gathered in order to discover a trend or tendency among my participants. Here’s what I noticed:

  1. Too much information, no matter how important it is, is daunting when seen all at once.
  2. Redundancy and repetition do not help — they just confuse and mislead.
  3. Give users what they want when they want it.

I got rid of a lot of cards that were deemed unnecessary and created predetermined categories to see how users would sort out the remaining cards. Scroll down for more..

First closed card sort.
  • The sorting took much less time than the open card sorts.
  • Put ‘About NYU’ at the end because it was least important to him.
Second card sort.
  • Almost identical to the first closed card sort in terms of categorizing.
  • ‘Life @ NYU’ seemed to be the least important to her.
Third card sort.
  • Categorization wasn’t as close to the first two as I had hoped.
  • First time groups within groups were used.
  • Had ‘About NYU’ first, just like the second card sort.

Third Checkpoint: Iterate All the Things

Once I concluded my card sorting and data synthesis of my findings, I decided to create a sitemap, which would act as a foundation for my first round of sketching.

From top left to bottom right: v.1.0 | v.1.1 | v.1.2 | v.1.3 | v.1.4

Using the data from my card sorts, I was able to whittle away the excess information and created what would eventually be the global navigation for my prototype.

After completing my site maps I went on to sketch out the first iterations of my wireframe. First, by hand.

And then digitally via Sketch.

Just as my site maps went through a number of iterations, I versioned out 7 iterations of my wireframe.

From start to finish, I went from v.1.0-v.1.5 and finally ended up with v.2.0. The first iteration I ran tests with was v.1.5. The first four iterations took place because I noticed a lot of site mapping issues before I even went into prototyping with InVision. If you want to take a look, see below!

Prototype v.2.0.

(The task I had users conduct was: As John, navigate through the site in order to find information about your area of study. This includes important dates, information on professors, finances, etc.)

The user flows of my 7 users. 6/7 completed the task on the most ideal path.

Third Checkpoint: Usability Tests

“It’s kind of delightful. I don’t know why I’m laughing!”
“Very straight forward. Not overwhelming at all.”
“It feels like an experience instead of one big screen of crap.”
“I feel like I have options.”
“That experience was instantaneous.”

You could say user testing went well. I received a lot of positive feedback, which was encouraging because it made me feel confident not only in my design decisions, but also in the research that I based it on.

Before you go on thinking that I didn’t receive any flak for my design, think again!

The flak I received all pertained to the balance and functionality of the side nav bar and the primary nav bar. In order to validate these findings, I did some quick and simple data synthesis with good ol’ fashion sticky notes.

The results of my data synthesis led me to iterating v.2.0 that you looked at before. If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, here it is again!

Fourth Checkpoint: Design Findings

  1. Nobody likes to have information thrown at them. Especially in large quantities.
  2. Location, location, location! Knowing where you are makes you feel a lot more comfortable then you’d think.
  3. Being delightful goes a long way.

It’s funny how the unexpected things are the things that can make a good design into a great design (in my case, a slightly better design than previously expected).

Fifth Checkpoint: Personal Findings

List of things I already had and what I still needed.
  1. I realized that too much information is not good. For both the user and the designer. I need to find a balance in the research methods I use and know which tools to use and when to use them.
  2. I ran into a lot of moments where I felt like I was treading water just to stay alive. This is when my instructor, Rashida White, advised me to list out what I had and visualize everything in a list so I can get a better understanding of where I am.

Sixth Checkpoint: Pay Day

It all comes down to business. How can my changes help NYU from a business perspective?

Well, NYU is a school that prides itself on its history and global prominence. And who has more pride than NYU other than those who went there! Schools get most of their money from prospective students who enroll and from their alumni who give back. By creating a user experience that’s more enjoyable for an alumni who’s also a prospective student, we’re killing two really big birds with one super polished, easy to hold stone.

Seventh Checkpoint: The Memories

I really thought it was interesting how each one of us in the class tackled the same problem. Many of us even had the same schools, but all of our designs catered to different needs and it was awesome to see other people’s process. It made me realize that a team of us could really produce enough firepower to pump out a great design — project 3, here we come!

As for me, looking back on Day 1 of P2 and seeing where I am now, it’s crazy what kind of rollercoaster I’ve been on. I started off feeling lost and overwhelmed, but finished off feeling like I’ve found a pretty decent foothold in the mountain that is UX/UI design. Even though I feel like I get beat up each time a project comes around, I realize that I always come out a much stronger designer and individual.

  • Time boxing is super important. I can’t get lost in one place for too long or it’ll set me too far back!
  • Pick and choose your weapons wisely. Using every single type of research method may give you the most insight, but is it all really necessary?
  • Always be teachable. The ability to learn and to be taught is what enables us to grow and become better versions of ourselves.

The Final Checkpoint: What’s Next?

  • More detailed descriptions for all programs offered at NYU.
  • Site-wide integration of the new page layout to enforce consistency and continuity.
  • Cross platform compatibility
Mobile Prototype v.1.0 — Has not gone under any usability testing.

P1. Check.

P2. Check.

P3? We’ll see you soon.