Category Archives: Deliverable

We’ve got a visual

This Georgetown.edu project update is all about design! Welcome to our most complex deliverable yet.

In December, we received two design concepts from our vendor, Digital Pulp. The concepts included mockups for new homepage, landing page, and article page (among others) to give us an idea of what Digital Pulp’s proposed design would look like with different kinds of content in different contexts.

Step one when evaluating a design is to present it to Georgetown’s Visual Identity committee. The idea here is not necessarily to ask what they like and don’t like about the designs—that comes later. Instead, designers on the committee reviewed the Georgetown.edu concepts to ensure that they adhered to Georgetown’s brand guidelines—to make sure that the right colors are incorporated, that the seal is properly represented, and that the correct fonts are used.

Once we had the visual identity committee’s approval, we presented the designs to the advisory group. The idea at this stage was to explore what feelings each design concept evoked; answering questions like “Does this design reflect the Georgetown you know?” and “Which adjectives do you think apply to this design direction?”

Next was user testing. This step will be familiar to those of you who stayed updated while we were reviewing wireframes. This time, the UI/UX-oriented members of the redesign team spent two days with students specifically (or target audience), asking them what they thought about the design concepts.

This month, it’s up to us to gather feedback on these directions—our own feedback as well as our advisory group’s and the students’—to determine which we like best and what should be refined. In the background, we’re also continuing to plan for the build: reviewing functional requirements and exploring questions about integration, SEO, and content.

Sitemap, Wireframes, User Testing

How do we transition from a Strategy Brief to designing and building a website? The first step is a sitemap. The sitemap helps organize priorities and audiences defined in the Strategy Brief into something more concrete. Sitemaps are interactive tools used during the design process show a quick visualization of a website’s intended structure and page hierarchy. In our case, Digital Pulp provided the first three levels of pages with draft titles in order to approximate the top level navigation. The sitemap is the first step in defining the website’s planned structure, and we will test how the labels and their categories match up with user expectations (more on that below).

A sitemap with a homepage, three categories with subsections, and one content item with no subsections

Source: https://stuyhsdesign.wordpress.com/web-design/sitemap/

Wireframes flow from the sitemap—they serve to answer the question: given these pages, in this hierarchy, how should we present this content to the user? Wireframes are a blueprint of website components that demonstrate the relative priorities of each page’s information and functions. In our case there will be specific, detailed content on the page to validate the proposed content strategy and navigation. Wireframes allow us to get early feedback on the (non-visual) design elements before higher fidelity elements like images, colors, and branding are added. You can think of wireframes like building plans—it’s easier to relocate a bathroom when it’s on a blueprint than when construction is in progress. Similarly, it’s easier to reorganize and reconfigure components of our website when they’re in black and white then when development is underway.

An example high-fidelity wireframe

Source: https://justuxdesign.com/blog/wireframe-fidelity

With the sitemap and wireframes in hand, we’ll move to the next phase: User Testing. During user testing, our goal is to validate the information architecture defined in the sitemap and test language, section headings, and organization of site content defined in the wireframes. To do this, we will conduct about 15, hour-long sessions with people who are part of the website’s target audiences (students, staff, faculty, and alumni). We’ll open these sessions telling participants, “there are no right or wrong answers here – we want your honest opinions. If things are unclear or confusing, let us know. We’re not testing you, you’re testing our work.” Comments and feedback received during user testing will directly feed into next iterations of the sitemap and wireframes.

Illustration of remote user testing with quotes from user stating preferences for Design A vs. Design B

Source: https://uxdesign.cc/best-practices-for-on-video-user-testings-7652cc8e2f9d

We are holding user testing sessions for our prototypes in early October. In order to build a diverse pool of potential testers for both the top tier redesign and other future Georgetown web experiences, we’re actively recruiting GU students, staff, faculty, parents, and friends. Please sign-up via our Google Form to be a tester and help us improve Georgetown website experiences.

Overview of Strategy Brief

Digital Pulp completed its first deliverable—a Strategy Brief outlining high-level insights that its team learned during the discovery phase. This document will serve as the base for all future project decisions. The Top Tier Redesign Working Group worked with Digital Pulp to provide edits and suggestions to ensure that the Strategy Brief adequately met the needs of Georgetown.

Project mission

Develop a site that communicates Georgetown University’s passionate commitment to creating a student body “with and for others’ through an emphasis on holistic education, fearless academic and personal inquiry, and social justice, while being fully engaged and woven into the fabric of one of the most global cities in the world.

Differentiators & Attributes

  • Jesuit: Georgetown cares for and develops the whole person and the community is inspired by an urgency and obligation for each person to examine who they are, how their experiences have shaped them and the impact of their choices.
  • DC: ​DC offers the Georgetown community a multitude of opportunities to engage in both the local and the global.
  • Leadership in Access and Affordability: The university represents the gold standard in its work helping first gen students not only graduate, but thrive.
  • Engaged and Accessible Faculty: ​Besides being world class researchers and academics, Georgetown faculty are also very accessible to students and engaged in their development.
  • Commitment to Social Justice: The ​service and social change aspect of the Georgetown brand is important to students—in fact, this focus is often a deciding factor.

The brief also outlined content strategy, creative strategy, and identification of key performance indicators (KPIs).

First deliverable approved

Shortly after stakeholder interviews were completed, we received our first deliverable: the Strategy Brief. In terms of project updates, it’s a relatively small one. The point is not to present new ideas or designs. Rather, the goal of the Strategy Brief is to serve as the “North Star” of the project: to outline the research that Digital Pulp has done and to translate it into clear goals for the project. As we continue our work, the Strategy Brief will be our guide.

And the work indeed continues! Next up, we will review a Messaging Guide, a document that outlines the voice and tone that should be used when writing about Georgetown University on its digital platforms, including key words and phrases. We’ll also use the next couple of months to develop and test the sitemap and wireframes, which are essentially the blueprints for the site menu and page templates. So many more deliverables to come.