NPower is a non-profit organization that provides IT services and training for other non-profits. The national organization helps coordinate and facilitate the operations of many local affiliates.

Challenge: Transform Charming Locals to Inspiring Network

NPower National hosts the websites of eight of the local affiliates, and was looking to improve the image and user experience of these sites. The existing sites were developed with the intent of being very friendly and approachable, but the staff wanted sites that were also sophisticated and that inspired confidence in NPower. While the local affiliates had started from some common point with their sites, they had moved in varying directions over the years. Many of the differences among sites reflected real differences in the local organizations and the services they provided. Many of the differences…were just different.

Approach: Lunchtime Card Sorts and Main Navigation Counseling

I conducted a multi-site inventory and some guerrilla usability testing (in the lunch room with clients who were on-site for training.) This fed into navigation and labeling systems that would better fit not only NPower’s content, but also what their users were looking for. I created wireframes and comps that showed how to highlight content and provide user navigation in multiple areas, not just the main navigation. I even repositioned the main navigation along the top specifically so there would be a limited amount of space…to avoid future main nav bloat.

Outcome: Visual and IA Makeover on a Flexible Framework

Along with a fresh look, NPower now had a common framework that could accommodate all of the existing content from the various sites as well as be flexible for local differences and future growth. Several NPower employees at corporate and the affiliates really bought in and became advocates for using multiple avenues for highlighting the most important content.

Lessons Learned: Communicate Early and Often

An off site vendor was doing the creative production and the CSS for the sites. We had talked early on and agreed (I thought) on how to work together. The final site design included some unexpected differences from the Information Architecture design, although overall it was still an improvement that the clients were happy with. In hindsight, more proactive and ongoing communication on my part could have made this a more collaborative effort.

Roles

  • User Experience Architect
  • Usability Tester
  • Content Strategy

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