VeriSign, Inc In business since 1995 Network Infrastructure: provide security for Internet and Communication transactions Acquired a number of companies in a short period of time
VeriSign Web Properties Team Within Corporate Marketing Web Properties has 2 segments Engineering Web Publishing Producers HTML developers IA was brought in as a consulting role for site re-design project
The Problem Organically grown web site Conglomeration of numerous different sites Normalization process was done, but it was a band-aid for a patient on life support Broken Navigation Useless search Static web pages. Updated manually by web team.
Findability Issues! Users were unable to find needed content Surveys revealed that customers felt like hostages on the web site Search was practically useless Not inspiring confidence with the user experience Content lacked substance
Solution Re-architect and re-design web site from the bottom up Implement content management system (CMS) Improve search
Consultant Advisory Board Peter Morville – Information Architecture Bob Boiko – Content Management Avi Rappoport – Search
About Me I was tasked with taking the advisor’s suggestions and implementing them Information Architect consultant with 8 years experience Trained in Library and Information Sciences
3 main objectives: Create metadata schema to improve search and implement CMS Develop controlled vocabularies needed for metadata Content types Products and services Create templates for CMS Improve navigation and layout Support CMS implementation
Site Re-Design Business Requirements Content analysis Audience analysis Competitive analysis Visual design Specification Implementation (within the CMS)
Business Requirements Support users in every phase of the customer lifecycle Provide consistent navigation and page layout Support the company’s brand Develop a metadata structure that supports information management and findability
Content Analysis Formulated list of content types Gathered representative examples of all content types Analyzed content, user needs and business requirements for each content type Formulated specifications for some content types
Audience Analysis Gathered information about users from Site Satisfaction Survey Interviewing product groups and support organizations Different user groups for different products Systematic approach for gathering data Mapped audience type to each product group, identified necessary content required for each phase of customer lifecycle Data analyzed to surface patterns
Competitive Analysis Different aspects of information architecture were analyzed Navigation Search Page layout Analysis based on industry, type of content and size of business
Visual Design Outside agency brought in Bottom-up IA analysis drove the visual design They also performed a brief top-down analysis New navigation scheme was adopted Representative templates were developed to showcase new design system
Specification Mapped all content to the new templates Individual pages defined All elements for pages were specified
Content Management System Goals Provide a distributed publishing model throughout the company while maintaining consistency and control over UI and navigation Allow for easier updates and changes to the web site (reduce cost) Implement metadata
CMS Implementation Inventoried content Developed corporate taxonomy Provided style sheet and wireframes for all templates Developed detailed site map for all content
CMS Templates Mapped current content to existing templates Created new templates where required, providing wireframes and style sheet Outlined revised publishing system and governance rules, based on CMS capabilities, business needs and company culture
Metadata Developed specifications for the Resource Library, a central repository and search interface for the company’s digital resources Metadata-driven search with multiple entry points throughout the web site
Search Improved technical aspects of search Updated software Configured server Mirrored indexing Improved user interface Removed unnecessary information for users Refined key word in context highlighting Changed navigation Added usable verbiage Reformatted promotional information
Search Added Quick Links feature (commonly called best bets) Improved quality of search results data Weighted more relevant information Trained content owners in constructing page titles and creating useful metadata Defined process for continued analysis of search traffic reports to monitor, update and improve search results as needed.
Results Corporate section of web site to go live May 19, 2004 Site traffic will be analyzed and compared to baseline statistics. Hope to see 20% improvement in site traffic and user satisfaction.
Lessons Learned Site Re-Design and CMS Implementation Huge undertaking: both done simultaneously It was vital that the project be done this way The re-design was primarily a re-architecture of the existing site It would have doubled the work and probably would have sabotaged the success of the project to do the CMS implementation first and site redesign second. It was imperative to provide a solid and extensible information infrastructure for the company’s growth into the next 5-8 years.
Resources Learned that is was important to rely on existing expertise in the company rather than import a lot of temporary, external help. Doing this made this an 18 month long project Helpful, given the complex nature of the business and its information needs (it wasn’t easy to bring new people up to speed in order for them to do their job effectively). All the above reasons made this a purely bottom-up IA project
Pure Bottom-Up IA Bottom-up was required All previous top-down efforts had failed Complex business Unstable, constantly changing landscape Limited resources Successful completion of all project goals and objectives!