• Card Sorting*
• Component Modules** (special functionality pieces of the website)
• Information Architecture continues to be defined
(Jonathan Newberry is shown here working on the Information Architecture for our new website)
There will be several changes to the content structure of our
website that will better serve site visitors.
The information should be up-to-date, easy-to-find, and
be useful to future students, current students, faculty and staff,
administrators, alumni, and others interested in FHU.
I'm sure you are asking yourself, "what is card sorting?". It's a user testing method for organizing data into structure. Web designers use it to help structure the information architecture and navigation for a site. In other words, it helps us to figure out what goes where based on feedback from our site's visitors.
The basic concept is that you have a randomly ordered set of index cards that represent pages of a website. The participants group the cards as they see fit. There are two basic types of card sorting methods - open and closed. We implemented both types. Nine different groups of people were tested from a future student population, faculty population, and current student population. Two-thirds of our sorts that were performed were closed sorts due to the fact we already had an architectural structure in mind for our site. In total, we had 26 individuals involved in "sorting". You can see some of these groups in action below:
||iKnow Research Team (faculty)
With a closed sorting method:
• you use predefined category/heading labels
• purpose is to help identify things belonging in a structure
• forces participants to carefully think about the different categories and what should go in them
• works as a validation tool
Open sorting involves:
• "sorters" build the structure from individual items (no predefined categories)
• "sorters" provide categories (in their own terms)
Since we have taken the approach of redesigning our site from the ground up (software, information architecture, design) our goal was to find out what people thought about certain issues or content on our site. We used this method to help define the variability between different users ways of thinking and the vocabulary that they would use to describe those items (pages/content of our website). According to the results of leading usability experts, we have collected enough data with our groups of "sorters" to be useful but not wasteful with our time and effort. In other words, we could test twice as many people and our results would be marginally different.
We have already made a few improvements in our Information Architecture due to the results of these tests.
Component modules are the special controls that we are building to bring dynamic content to the website. We've been working on several of these during this past week. Most notable are our new form templates (registration forms), event calendar, and search control.
We are working to simplify and refine our forms so that they are easy to use, readable, and function well. Some of this work has already been used in the Horizons registration forms. You can visit horizons.fhu.edu
and take a look.
Our event calendar is coming along quite nicely. The most significant items that our website visitors will be able to notice is that all of our campus related events are in one place. In addition, different areas of the website will contain small "event widgets" with information for that particular area. I'm not sure that many of us on campus know where to go when we want to place something on the campus calendar. This will no longer be an issue as there will be an event submission form built right into the site, allowing anyone to submit an event for our calendar. These events, of course, will be moderated but should allow for more well-informed campus community.
We are making several efforts to enhance the search experience on our website. Currently, our search page doesn't look like the rest of our website. When the new site launches June 1, this will no longer be the case. We are also making many efforts to improve search results by watching trends and terms that users are searching with. Our main goal is for users to be able to find the information that they are looking for on our website.
Please leave them below.