What happened when we redesigned our own IT website: A case study

Our goal was to provide an online experience that better met our visitors' needs and requirements.

Just before the end of 2018 we launched a redesign of the IT Services website that saw significant changes to it's focus and tone. Our goal was to provide an online experience that better met our visitors' needs and requirements. Updates included a revamped look and feel, a new menu structure and a revised content strategy.

Since the launch, we've been pleased to see the results reflected in our site stats and in the comments we've received from our audience members.

20%reduction in bounce rate
18%increase in pageviews

So how did we accomplish this?

Our process

The process and principals we followed to redesign the IT Services site are the same as those we recommend when helping Web Services Group clients with their own site redesigns - see details outlined in our article, Getting ready for a site redesign. Quite a while had elapsed since the last site redesign. We felt our clients might look to the site as an example, so we decided to pull out all the stops to ensure we got thorough results.

Tasks we undertook included:

  • Creating clearly defined site goals and objectives
  • Organizing focus group workshops with audience members
  • Reviewing site analytics
  • Conducting a site content audit
  • Reviewing site features (to ensure we're taking full advantage of the appropriate WMS tools)
  • Running usability tests
  • Starting an ongoing evaluation of the site

Addressing the key issues

Our initial site analysis indicated our old site was falling short of meeting our visitors' needs. We had a fair bit of work to do to bring the site up to current standards, and we decided to tackle the updates in three phases:

  1. Homepage redesign
  2. Site restructuring, and redesign of top-level landing page layouts
  3. Content overhaul and redesign of popularly visited tertiary webpages

Phase 1: Homepage redesign

An analysis of our old homepage revealed a number of issues that needed to be addressed, including:

  • High bounce rate
  • Visitors weren't using the service category navigation
  • Visitors weren't reading/seeing content in the right sidebar

In response, the homepage was redesigned to feature popular site pages as well as key help resources identified by focus group participants. These pages and resources were re-labeled with user-centric titles like "Get help" and "Make a request". Our usability tests also indicated that there was room at the top of the page for additional announcement blocks that could and should be used to educate our audience about the services we support.

Phase 2: Site structuring and redesign of top level landing page layouts

After the new home page was launched, we turned our attention to revising the site structure. Our goal was to ensure the site was easy for visitors to navigate and that the information presented reflected their needs.

We introduced a drastically revised menu structure with a number of new sections. We also decommissioned or combined some of the older sections. In the end, our revised menu structure retained just two of the previous top-level menu items from our old site, and reduced the number of these menu items from ten 10 to seven.

Phase 3: Full content overhaul and redesign of popular webpages

Our site redesign also encompassed a shift in our content strategy that saw greater emphasis on connecting with our visitors.

New content objectives

  • Focus on providing user-friendly content (easy to ready, customer centered)
  • Engage with and educate our audience with new IT Services articles
  • Feature dynamic content concerning recent news and announcements

We're currently in the process of reviewing the site content to ensure consistency with new service labeling recommendations that came out of our audience testing exercises.

The end result...for now

We're feeling hopeful that the new IT website will provide a better experience for our site visitors: members of the McGill community who use our services and rely on us for support. Early results seen in our site analytics indicate we've achieved some success, but we know we'll have to continue to evaluate and improve the site on an ongoing basis.

Visit the IT Services website to check out our most recent updates.