We got the project of website revision which evolved into producing an entire product from scratch. The clients was Sacre-Davie Engineering, a family owned business that grew into a larger family that needed a website matching their needs.

Sacre-Davie set themselves apart as a family in Vancouver, pushing innovation and expansion from British Columbia into the international scene. Every chance adding new talent to match their growth and culture of diversity, expertise and safety.

The team

Fer — The graphics

Jenna — The project manager

Richard — The guy

How did we approach

Sacre-Davie current website didn’t really describe themselves as who they are. More as a stoic service that is clean cut and gets the job done at the end of the day. When we interacted with the client it didn’t seem like the case at all. They were pleasant, welcoming, and humble to who they were. They are growing from a small family to a multinational one. The most basic aspects of who they were wasn’t shown on their website on first glance.

It was pretty evident comparing their Facebook page that there is branding disconnects. Having content of family get togethers, community services, potlucks and outings for every second or third post. Just giving off a vibe of warm and friendly. Not a standard oil services webpage, with no personality and character to who they are.

So the plan was to do contextual inquiry, domain research, and surveys.


So we did some contextual inquiry through client interviews, and office visits.

Lia was our main contact for SDE and she described:

  • Work contracts in the UK
  • Company get togethers
  • A brushy CEO that mountain bikes
  • Billion dollar competition
  • High mining yield when compared to other companies

What we saw at SDE:

  • A family
  • Innovation
  • Growth
  • Excitement
  • Competitive

Next we sent out surveys asking about what they thought about SDE like:

Where do you see SDE in 10 years?

What made you decide to work for SDE?

Do you think the website reflect SDE well?

We found that SDE employees described their company as expanding, experienced, quality, family, competitive, innovative, lean, fun, diverse. Some employees even found that the website was fine and it represented the company well indicating a bias to the surveys therefore conclusions from the surveys should be taken with a grain of salt.


Clients? What clients?

We couldn’t form a persona because users weren’t available or our methodology was too focused on how sales were conducted presently. We needed to do our best and adapt our persona though. I think we took a shot in the dark and used sales reps (VP’s) as an approximate guesstimation on their clients.

Comparative comparison?

Looked at Hatch, AECOM, AMEC, and Knight Piesold.

Guessed that the different sites are targeting different personas.


  • 9000 staff, 150 countries
  • Emphasis on social welfare
  • Easy to read in the top hierarchy
  • IA is not very broad but very deep
  • Private company

Hypothesis: Suggesting that the targeted users are most likely Engineers or Project managers with +10 years of experience.


The IA requires digging and wording is focused on people in the field, requiring high motivation and or lots of experience in the field.


  • Operates in 150 countries
  • In diverse markets in (every form of engineering)
  • Listed on NYSE
  • Navigation is flat and content is easy to understand
  • Lots of emphasis on social welfare

Hypothesis: Probably targeting investors and possible investors.


Not very deep IA and everything is very easy to understand. Also environmental tech is strongly emphasized. NYSE listing is displayed in realtime. Placement of the investors page below countries provides emphasis.


  • Listed on London Stock Exchange / New York Stock Exchange
  • In four sectors of engineering Oil & Gas, Clean Energy, Environment & Infrastructure, and Mining
  • Greater social welfare emphasis, also social media presence is also very strong

Hypothesis: Probably targeting investors. Second persona is most likely Engineer project managers.


Goes very deep into the IA for the types of different project but on the surface level it looks very general for investors. The emphasis on social media supports the primary persona.

Knight Piesold

  • Extremely flat IA, just has two layers to the architecture.
  • Focused on engineers, environmental scientists, geoscientists, and technologists.
  • Experts page profiles

Hypothesis: Probably targeting firms looking for analysis. Just poorly done and executed.


Lack of information and the language used is very generalized. Has a greater environmental feel, due to what pictures are displayed but there is no data to emphasize what they are good at.

So this means:

Should probably have a broad IA with some sections for depth if the users want it. Probably some emphasis on environmentalism. Also need to target one user and keep perspective of where the company is at the moment and give the ability for the site to grow with the company.

The trick is understanding where SDE persona’s stands.

What was the planning stage?

Created a persona from our research, then moved on to creating the site map.

Persona 1

So from domain research and our contextual inquiry of how projects are acquired by SDE we got two personas.

Bill Jones is a Senior Engineer who is well educated and considering SDE for a major Oil & Gas project.

Persona 2

Well educated male 30–35 project manager from the mechanical engineering field.

NEXT : Assessing the current website content and how it is laid out.


Content was everywhere and nothing made sense. Page topic and page material didn’t always match also the page didn’t match the section name. We thought the current set up would make everything difficult to find.


New site map involved a homepage that emphasized projects, sectors, and partners. About us had a strange affiliation page that was separated from the other pages of the section. Mostly we summarized and made everything as logical as possible according to our persona.

Design process?

Well I think some magic happened and it looked nice, fyi thanks Fer and Jenna. I did some wireframes and some hi-fi stuff that didn’t look so good.. so I did testing. Style choices.. not so sure.

Heres the prototype: TA-DA

Testing process?

It was mostly testing the navigation whether a bar system or a circular navigation is preferred.

How we tested involved determining the amount of time involved getting from one point to another. Also whether they could find certain information on the page. We also created two scenarios:

Had a referral from a colleague & had a meeting with someone at SDE. Looking at the website to get more detail on relevant projects that SDE has done.

Has talked to a Sacre-Davey employee at a trade show and is interesting recommending Sacre-Davey for a project at her company.

We didn’t have any relevant users that could understand the content probably causing issues with testing so we stuck with testing the interface.

Difficulties with research.. A sample of three people

Sample size is kinda small but what can we do other than the best. In a perfect world with unlimited resources we would have several months and 200 users for testing. A class room setting sometimes is hard to understand we must do the best UX we can without jeopardizing the process, and model as close as possible to a perfect world. Just improvise.

Future considerations..

Difficulties with direction and considerations of SDE.. Difficult to figure out what on the site is a permeant fixture. Get more perspective on where the business is going and how it is getting there.

Rather than a sales team forming relationships and courting clients we could research other companies methods of getting business. Is marketing events, and social the best way to get new business or is there another way?

Difficulties with me..

It was kinda hard to get greater emphasis on stats with the team. I thought the client would understand the amount of time it takes for them to get from point A to point B. My logic was if the IA didn’t make sense or buttons didn’t look like buttons it would take a longer amount of time and or more clicks.

Be pretty cool to create an average for a services webpage to form a baseline then compare the model to the page being assessed. This is to create an norm for user behaviour when using a services webpage. Then when we measure per click and it corresponds to the base line it should be a good webpage. I think if the numbers of clicks increase and the seconds don’t correspond to the norm, it could be a consistency problem with the webpage? Or we do a bunch of objectives in the scenario and if it causes variance then it could indicate a consistency problem within that one objective.

Careers page was hidden..

I think we could have delved deeper into the hiring process because if the articles are true that engineers are in demand. SDE needs to compete for these employees.

My opinion..

I wasn’t too happy with the lack of Users but we made the best we could. I think that if the project was more environmental friendly it would have been more pleasant. The next time around I think we could have asked and pushed for displaying more of the corporate responsibility that is present in their community events.

Over all I think it was pretty pleasent.

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