In spring 2017, the University of Saskatchewan began a project to update aspects of its “PAWS” portal’s user interface. The PAWS UI hadn’t been touched in over four years and we were interested in making improvements that would help render portal content and features more “discoverable.”
As a team, we had ideas about what areas we thought we needed to attack. But rather than go to it in a bubble, we reached out to our users allowing them to inform and shape the changes we would make through methods such as interviews, usability testing, card-sorts, and surveys. Critical to this research was the three-phase approach to go from project conception to production-ready UI changes that included:
1. A Discovery stage, where we identified the scope of improvements and built a prototype
2. An Alpha phase, where we iteratively tested, played and tested some more;
3. A Beta version, where we tweaked our changes while gradually easing users in to the ideas we were promoting
Content & Communications Specialist Medbh English will walk attendees through the research methods and stages that informed our work and show how by engaging users we were able to make significant changes to a major communications and technology delivery platform without freaking people out.
Medbh EnglishPortal Content & Communications Specialist
Medbh English has been the University of Saskatchewan's Portal Content & Communications Specialist for over 10 years. Working collaboratively as part of the team responsible for the university's web portal, she has the unique position of being a non-technical, communications-focussed influence on a more-traditional technical team. Medbh has a Master's degree in Publishing from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.