One can never know too much about mold.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is a premier source of learning, networking and knowledge for the industrial hygiene sector (IH). [Think of laboratory safety, controlling exposure to toxic chemicals, and yes, mold.] This is no small task, as the IH world is made up of a diverse group of really smart people with different needs: field workers, managers, teachers, consultants, students, and more. Presenting content in a way that breaks down this complex scientific field in an intuitive manner for all of these audiences is a real challenge.
To meet it, AIHA called on Dovecot Studio to help create a solid foundation for their website revamp. No stranger to taxonomies, AIHA had multiple conflicting vocabularies in place, but each served their own granular purpose and none of them were being used optimally to enhance the user experience. The website was difficult to navigate, and users complained that they had a hard time finding the valuable content they knew AIHA was producing.
AIHA wanted to build a common vocabulary that would unite all the various perspectives and create a shared language for the profession. They also wanted to make their site more browsable and expose their content more effectively, showing their value to members.
We were ready to get our hands dirty (no pun intended).
The project was twofold: create a taxonomy for the organization to tag and publish content and re-architect the website navigation to increase findability and usability.
We conducted interviews with individuals from all departments to familiarize ourselves with different aspects of their workflow. We also asked volunteers to do some live and online card sorting, grouping important domain concepts and labeling them. This gave us insight on how Industrial Hygienists, and those working within the field of IH, organize their discipline and highlighted the pain points within the current taxonomy.
At the same time, we worked on the architecture of the AIHA public website. We conducted interviews with volunteers to get an idea of how the current website was being used and what users like and didn’t like about the site. We learned a lot about how different user segments interacted with the website — for research and reference, for professional development, and for promoting the profession. Creating several personas gave us an easy way to reference different user profiles to make sure we weren’t leaving anyone out when we made decisions about navigational choices and page design.
We also reviewed all current site content and extrapolated it into a content map. By approaching the content from the perspective of end-users, instead of from the internal association viewpoint, we were able to proposed a new site map and highlight areas that could benefit from restructuring or new content development.
After validating all our work with stakeholders within the organization and conducting user testing with a fresh batch of volunteers, we got into the detailed work of providing high-fidelity wireframes for critical pages such as the home page and top-level landing pages.
This is where we got a chance to show off the power of the new taxonomy by surfacing related content from different areas of the site. By making more of the site dynamic — automatically created by the content management system– we freed up the editorial staff to focus on developing and curating content to better meet the evolving needs of this growing profession.
AIHA recently launched their phase 1 website revamp which features some of the newly architected pages and sitemap. You can see in the images how they went from a very dense, “Times Square-y” home page to one with more breathing room and prioritization of tasks. The new navigation is intended to make it easier for members to quickly locate important items, such as membership renewal, publications and special interest group content.
In future releases, we’ll see the addition of topic-pages based on taxonomy and more IA changes to some of the inside pages. Looking forward to it!