The best websites employ a user-experience strategy focussed on fulfilling end-user needs. For a regulatory college, their two primary audiences – members and the public, have very different needs. The College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) worked with C(Group to conduct research to understand their specific communication needs and to develop a strategy that would fulfill those needs in the best possible way. In addition to the development of a new branding platform, the College’s website was in need of a complete overhaul.
C(Group gathered website user-experience survey responses, paired them with staff experiences and wishlists, and through a series of exercises, identified the following key objectives for the new website:
- Improve information architecture to ensure that content can be easily located.
- Improve content design for visual interest in often text-heavy and legally worded content.
- Improve search functionality, specifically better-related results for keywords.
- Ease-of-use for website administrators.
- The ability to convert resource PDFs into webpages.
- Development of a digital version of the College’s newsletter.
Based on best-practices within the non-profit sector, WordPress was selected as the CMS platform to power the site. To significantly improve speed and decrease long-term maintenance, C(Group’s custom framework plug-in was implemented, and all functionality was also custom developed to the College’s needs. This approach ensures a lightweight code base and limits any potential future code conflict, which is common when adding typical third-party plug-ins. Each back-end function was built for ease-of-use by CPO’s staff and according to their administrative processes and preferences.
After conducting an information architecture exercise, C(Group developed navigation and content structures and recommended front-end tactics to help users get results fast. One example is the creation of an interactive tool to help potential applicants determine practice eligibility and their specific application requirements.
The overall information architecture grouped content relevant to three audience groups in an ever-present primary navigation that users could access at all times.
C(Group led CPO through a creative development process that produced a visual look for the website that is clean, professional, and approachable. Hallmarks include the use of an upbeat colour palette and avant-garde black and white photography. The site was designed with specific formatting style options in the back-end so the College’s content creators could simply assign them when posting new content. Similarly, a library of custom-designed accordions, buttons, callout boxes, and other layout elements, are available for selection as required. With a variety of readily available styling options, content that was previously overwhelming to consume became much more digestible. The site’s design styles were then applied to the College’s internal CRM applications, including the members’ area and public register, to be consistent with the new look and feel.
Due to the volume of site content, C(Group implemented a superior search technology product to ensure the site search served up the most relevant results possible. The integration of this technology delivered an immediate improvement in those results. With customizable “search weight” categories, the College will have full control over how results are served.
The back-end of the website features the easy-to-use functionality of WordPress with many custom post types which enable site administrators to easily update content by filling in simple fields. The administrative view was built in a manner that would enable someone new to WordPress to easily grasp the functionality and workflow. Training, a reference document, and style guides ensured the College could immediately assume control of all content management.
The College’s original website relied heavily on the use of PDFs, which tends to cause issues with performance and accessibility. Additionally, PDFs are not searchable, which hinders search engine visibility. To solve this, C(Group developed a custom post-type for information resources to enable the College to begin the process of migrating from the use of PDFs to more desirable HTML, providing a migration plan and ensuring information will never be outdated. C(Group also added functionality to be able to tag related resources so they could appear as additional material of potential interest when a user accessed a specific topic. Additionally, this functionality enables an information resource that might reside in several locations of the site to be updated universally in one place. The same functionality was integrated into FAQs and Quick Links with the ability to include them on pages to which the content relates.
Page load speed grade after re-design.
Finally, the College newsletter was re-named, re-designed, and fully integrated into the website as HTML, rather than a clunky PDF. C(Group developed a first of its kind custom serialization plug-in for the newsletter that offers users the ability to view publication issues as dynamically compiled posts presented as an online magazine. This allows each post to be tagged and subsequently, served up through search or as a related topic with other relevant website content. An ingenious feature that allows the user to switch seamlessly from issue to issue and delivers the ultimate user experience.
The College members and the general public can now enjoy a highly functional and easy-to-use website with easily accessible content. The WordPress platform provides a solid, secure, and best-of-class CMS on which the College’s web communication strategy can be achieved. The site’s recent launch allows this regulatory College to leapfrog its provincial peers and makes its web presence a model among health regulatory colleges in Ontario.