Aktion Mensch is a leading funding agency committed to promote inclusion which means reducing barriers in the everyday life of people with disabilities through providing financial support for social projects and campaigns.
This ongoing project is about relaunching an 150+ page online assistant used by people with disabilities and their relatives searching for consulting services.
With a database of more than 25.000 addresses and a variety of topics representing the Familienratgeber's centerpiece, this online assistant is one of the most popular online touch points and research tools for people with disabilities. As everything is subject to constant transition, so are the requirements a modern online experience needs to offer. A relaunch therefore at least needed to involve RWD basics and the implementation of user centered UX patterns that resonate with the needs and capabilities of the target audience.
Additionally, we gathered insights about major flaws regarding the present information architecture and content structure through conducting scenario based usability testing. This allowed us to identify pain points with regards to access, user guidance, navigation respectively overall user experience and develop service-oriented solutions. For the estimated 2017 relaunch I prepared an array of service modules being part of the revised IA and page structure as well as several workshops with our in-house project managers.
Our partner phaydon | research+consulting helped us to evaluate the service in terms of usability issues and optimization potentials: valuable data which we later used to derive specific measures and objectives. To ensure the test was realistic, we agreed on solely recruit people with disabilites and tasked them with exploring the site.
Eye tracking revealed several pain points regarding content structure and information architecture itself with the discovery of specific topics being the most noticeable issue. Instead of using the sub-navigation located in the side menu, users started to jump back and forth suggesting a complex search process and misleading content organization particularly on lower levels.
Due to the issues related to discovering specific topics, I continued our content-first approach by visualizing components with reference to everyday life, thus matching the needs of the target audience. Besides improving the navigation experience, maintaining a consistent user journey by embedding useful tools that correlate with the content turned out to be crucial for a satisfying service experience.
Additionally, I focused on how to meet the requirements of search dominant behaviors by improving search which now includes addresses, news, topics and links, a cookie-based possibility of saving discoveries for later inspection, category landing pages that improve overview and the integration of service modules on details pages along with adapations for mobile devices that enhance the overall UX.
While I cannot predict whether the solutions we developed in the first half of 2016 will be part of the final relaunch, what I can say is that one of the biggest challenges was to translate the findings based on usability testing into a set of features that resonate with the needs and capabilities of our not so tech-savvy users.
Or, the other way around, usability testing in our case was great to spot what was currently missing but didn't provide answers to the question what is needed to improve that cumbersome experience. Yet, by establishing relevance first we could tackle this issue and repeatedly validate being on the right track with our approach.