How we combined data and knowledge to make a category page work better for users.
A category page (sometimes called ‘section homepage’ or just ‘homepage’ here at the University) fulfils many functions on a website. It showcases the service, is usually the most visited page, and is the one page above all others that senior staff want a say in shaping.
The real purpose of this page is often lost in the ‘make it look dynamic!’ hype. As all good content designers know, websites exist to give our users what they need, and the number one place to do this is the service category page. And yet at the University we often find category pages are plagued with issues such as:
the content our users want is hard to find or missing altogether.
content loses focus because of ad hoc changes over time.
The third part of digital officer Charlotte Brewer’s series on content sprinting.
This post was actually writtena while ago. We planned to release it as part of our series on ‘Content Sprinting’. Then lockdown started.Hitting the publish button fell down the list of priorities. Despite lockdown, and despite everyone working from home and all the challenges that has brought, we’re actually still working in exactly the same way. We’re still sprinting. We’re still doing everything we did before. Everything in this blog post remains accurate. The only difference is that all our meetings and our conversations are via Skype. Continue reading: Content sprinting – part three
UX manager Miles Taylor on the benefits UX writing can bring to the usability of forms, instructions and error messages.
Major upgrades are afoot to a raft of University systems that support student recruitment and the students themselves once they arrive here.
At the coal (inter)face of each are forms that facilitate tasks and activities students need to complete. Things like booking on an open day, uploading documents to support their application, providing their accommodation preferences or accessing support.
Improving our forms’ usability
Typically, the Digital Communications team has been brought in right at the end of the development process to ‘sign-off’ on accessibility. But we’ve noticed so many more issues with the way we display form than just poor accessibility. (More about our accessibility testing in another post.)
While internal stakeholders have been consulted, users haven’t always had much of a look-in. Research hasn’t always been conducted or designs tested, beyond the purely aesthetic. As a result, several of these forms have been overly long, complex and confusing to complete.
We’ve been working with project teams on each of these systems to offer advice and guidance on form design best practice to improve layout and flow.
And we’ve introduced them to the importance of UX writing to improve the clarity, consistency and usefulness of their forms’ instructions, labels, buttons and error messages.