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Rearchitecting the UM School of Information

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When the University of Michigan School of Information hired my agency, Enlighten, to help with a website redesign for the school I was both excited and nervous. As an alumnus of the school, I felt we could provide value by really helping to streamline the experience of the site. But as a relatively recent graduate of the program, I was honestly very nervous about going into a department of information professionals and telling them that their site was a mess.

The redesign project was scoped small. Using a small team consisting of a vice president of sales, a visual designer and myself, we were hired to architect the site, provide wireframe templates, a new visual design, and to work closely with the school’s Drupal team. As the information architect for the project, I took the lead on mapping out the process to uncover what the school’s objectives and needs were.

I lead several discovery sessions with the three Deans of the program, working to uncover their short-term and long-term goals of the program. I conducted inperson focus groups with all of the user groups, learning how the current site met and didn’t meet their needs. After analyzing all of the focus-group data, I was able to identify the primary needs and objectives the site needed to fulfill for the user groups. From there, I was able to develop and present a feature set to the stakeholders showing them how the features tied back to user needs. The stakeholders were really pleased with this process because the direction of the new site was based on the needs we identified during the user focus groups. After the wireframes and visual design were approved, I worked closely with the Drupal development team to write the functional specifications.

The final step in this project was usability testing. We were able to test individuals from all of our identified user groups to ensure that the flow of information was correct and that the new design was on brand. It was really satisfying to see all of the hard work we put into understanding the school and their needs pay off in a beautiful and useful website.