Spurring and steering action
Development Pathways brand & website
Creative Director / Content Strategist / UI Writer
To re-brand Development Pathways - create a new brand voice and identity in order to enhance communications and online presence.
To create an effective website that allows users to achieve their goals and to form a relationship with the consultancy.
The website did not allow users to achieve their goals
How I helped:
Rewrite/redesign website to create a smooth user experience and help Development Pathways to influence development debates and to be perceived as thought leaders.
Create a content style guide and design system to keep brand voice, tone, messaging and visuals consistent across all platforms, including Mailchimp e-shots and Twitter/LinkedIn banners.
I decided to firstly conduct structured interviews with colleagues for a needs assessment. I realised that whilst the available collective wisdom of colleagues would only be a proxy for the perspective of users, it would supplement insights from analytics. As a community organiser, I had deepened my knowledge of people's experiences, pain points and goals through interviews.
"I decided to conduct structured interviews to assess needs."
I used interviews and workshops to help gain insights into users' goals
Business Development, Projects and Technical teams provided their understanding of different users' experiences. This included the fact potential consultants could not gather information about us. There was little sense we provide Management Information Systems. And there were pain points, such as the inability to access the site on devices.
These insights allowed me to develop key 'Jobs To Be Done' stories and, from this, to identify solutions for them to enhance Development Pathways' online experience.
UX Research: User intent review
I pinpointed on Google Trends how the most frequent searches bringing visitors mentioned either the CEO, who had some renown, or else our Kenya office and its MIS work.
This suggested users were interested in key members of our Technical Team’s knowledge, either to work with them or to access their insights. This underlined interview findings of our communications shortcomings: the well-known CEO's insights were difficult to navigate to; there was little MIS content; and we were not ranking highly for generic searches in areas of expertise to find the site in the first place.
Next I would map the journeys of my interviewees' users.
"I pinpointed the most frequent searches bringing visitors."
The user flow revealed the excessive number of steps to achieve two main Jobs to Be Done
Ideation: User journeys review
Looking at the analytics on journeys, I firstly found that the bounce rate for the homepage was far higher than the sector average. This corresponded with the interview finding that potential partners were unable to find information on our experts and expertise.
However, heat maps for the Resources Centre sub-page showed high engagement, suggesting that our papers and blogs were valuable to users. Digging into the data, I saw the largest number of these visitors arrived from our e-shots; a smaller number from social media; far fewer arrived from search-engines.
My mapping of the User Flow for different Jobs To Be Done (see below) demonstrated that the website made it difficult to achieve user goals. For two main jobs, it took four or five clicks, far higher than the 2.2 average clicks users were making on sector websites.
This evidence highlighted a need to make it more efficient and intuitive to navigate from the landing page. In the 'prototyping' phase we would generate solutions.
"My Jobs To Be Done user flow mapping showed it was hard for users to achieve their goals."
What characteristics does our brand personality have? I convened a brainstorming session to pin down what our brand voice and visual identity should be.
Ideation: Brand Voice and Identity
I convened a brainstorming session in order to pin down what our brand voice and visual identity should be. I facilitated this to encourage contributions from all team members by having breakout sessions and contributions from every smaller group.
This facilitation technology allowed me to gain as broad and rich an insight as possible: into how we as a company stand out compared to our competitors; and how we might communicate with our website visitors. There was a clear view that whilst we were authoritative experts grounded in evidence, we were also irreverent and went across the grain. Some advocated for a humble, intellectually curious voice.
These findings allowed me to draft the company's first Brand Voice and Visual Identity design guidelines, to achieve consistency on everything from the level of formality to the use of sub-headings as we carefully set out a case.
"The brainstorming session revealed our personality and unique messages."
The content analysis showed no clear brand voice, with a range of personality characteristics conveyed
I next undertook a content analysis of the existing website from the perspective of the Jobs To Be Done personas.
For the 'potential client,' the lack of information on the company, its history, major projects and its values and vision was striking. For the 'social protection thinker/student,' there was more content available. However, it was hidden in overly lengthy journeys with far too many options.
It was, in addition, difficult to discern a distinct brand voice in the microcopy or content. And while brand colours were used, content was not consistently laid out. This brand voice/visual identity put us at a disadvantage compared to competitors' sites. It would make it more difficult for any visitor to clearly know which site they are on and to form a relationship with us.
"My content analysis revealed a lack of information on the company and no discernable brand voice."
The content analysis showed no clear brand voice, with a range of voices, some using humour; others striking a serious note; some celebratory and optimistic, others sharply critical
Armed with knowledge on user flow analysis and our users' pain points from the interviews, I drafted a new site map to radically simplify user journeys. I presented this to the Senior Management Team, who were attached to the existing organisation of content, with different content types separated from each other.
I set out the case for simplifying user journeys. The finalised site map that we specified was amended to separate 'publications' and 'blogs'. But the different types of publications were all brought together on one page with a filter, as I had recommended. Similarly, the 'Our Work' section had a dramatically simplified filter system.
"I drafted a new site map to radically simplify user journeys."
Brand voice and visual identity
I commissioned a graphic designer to produce draft page designs and gathered feedback on these from the Senior Management Team. They needed to be convinced in these meetings by the bold designs that were dominated by images and not the text that they produced. I was able to show the analytics and the evidence for making the change, supported by the Business Development Manager.
The completed site: a simplified site architecture and a clearer voice and visual identity to allow users to achieve their goals and to find out who we are
I successfully collaborated with the designer and a developer to implement the vision, managing the input of feedback from the Senior Management Team. I wrote all the site microcopy and wrote and edited content.
The resulting new brand identity and voice, and overhauled site architecture and interaction led to a sixfold increase in site traffic within 18 months. Furthermore, the bounce rate was reduced to the sector average, whilst average visits were longer and more engaged, with visitors scrolling further down pages.
The 'Who We Are' and 'Our Work' sections were particularly popular, underlying the latent demand for this information revealed by both user intent and team insights had been successfully harnessed.