The College of Optometrists of Ontario’s (COO) newly redesigned website demonstrates how websites that are responsive to the diverse needs of their visitors prove the best user experiences.
The website redesign’s key objectives were outlined to be:
- Ensure members, the public and applicants connect immediately to content that speaks to them.
- Is organized sensibly from an information architecture standpoint so they may quickly access the information they require.
- Possess a user interface that supports efficient navigation, wayfinding and digestion of content.
- Be visually appealing and project our desired brand attributes.
- Works FOR us through search engine optimization (SEO) and digital tactics that improve relevancy ranking and increase awareness.
- Utilizes an easy-to-use content management system for administrators (e.g. WordPress) that adheres to current CMS best practices.
- Is fully responsive to all screen sizes, so content displays and functions optimally on mobile devices.
- Is fully accessible and meets WCAG 2.0 (AA) standards.
- Seamlessly integrates with College back-end systems to support specific business processes.
C(Group completed a series of planning activities to outline the functionalities needed to meet the needs of the COO. Wireframes and a detailed information architecture (IA) planning activity helped establish optimized (IA) page functions that ensure all site content can be reached within two clicks of a mouse.
The new website was designed with a responsive first approach, ensuring that all functionality translates beautifully across access devices. Versatile content formatting options were planned out to provide the site administrators with opportunities to improve the layout of content for easier reader consumption and navigation. Settings within the administrative back-end ensure that website admins can easily link content from throughout the site. This is achieved through the right side and bottom of page feature areas where users are served a one-stop shop for all content, resources, contact info, links to relevant content and FAQs they may need on one page.
Improved digital forms improved ease of use for the Public to submit concerns and complaints to the College and retain a copy of their submission for themselves.
A custom build plugin was developed to more easily organize and manage the discipline decisions process visible on the website. The plugin was built to ensure that information relevant to a hearing only needed to be entered once and could be moved from the Discipline Hearings page of the site to the Discipline Decisions page. This automation reduced the administration time required for this complex website area and helped to limit the risk of information falling out of currency across the two areas.
Stylesheets provided by C(Group for use in internal back-end systems ensured that the updated design was easily applicable to the COO’s existing systems and created a seamless look between the new site and those systems.
Lastly, a library to house and easily sort all College resources into categories was developed to ensure that the public, members and new applicants could easily find and be directed to forms, PDF resources, standards, and other college materials. The library allowed the college to have both a digital version of resources paired directly with a PDF version. This offers increased content indexing with improving SEO while providing the flexibility needed for site admins to convert PDF content to digital content over time.
The COO’s website users now enjoy a WCAG 2.0 Level AA-compliant website that prioritizes their ease of use while ensuring a wholly optimized back-end for site administrators to manage their new website efficiently.