Planning a new site for the UK's leading organisation for paediatricians and child health.
RCPCH (Royal College for Paediatric and Child Health) are the premier training and accreditation body for paediatricians and child health practitioners in the UK.
Our brief was to re-develop the RCPCH’s website, modernising and improving every aspect of it. The site was built with Drupal 6, an old and unsupported version of the CMS and need upgrading to Drupal 8, the latest version. In addition, content was hard to find, the site wasn’t optimised for mobile, and editors found it difficult to use.
RCPCH is a large organisation, with many different teams who each rely on the website for their work in different ways. As well as researching the external users, it was just as important to understand each team’s needs and incorporate their feedback, both to ensure the new site works for them and to foster a sense of ownership of the finished product.
I spent three months interviewing representatives from each team, as well as a range of external stakeholders. These ranged from young people, to trainees, to practicing paediatricians, to parents.
From these interviews we developed hundreds of user stories, which in a series of workshops held with each department, we grouped into epics and ranked them by importance. These directly informed the information architecture and content strategy of the new site.
Based on the user stories, I created a set of new content types and templates. The old site only had one content type – the page – which meant it was being used for many different things with no consistent structure.
Content types are defined by the purpose of each category of content, for example an article content type may have a tag field whereas an event has a date field.
I also needed to create a new tag structure to categorise content. Combined with the new content types, the plan was to use the tags to display and sort content in various ways – for example to pull out a range of different types of content on the same topic.
The old website had over five thousand content pages, plus many thousands of PDFs. We realised early on that we couldn’t migrate content automatically due to the old site’s structure – it had to be done manually.
I completed a full content audit, indexing each piece of content and cross-referencing it against traffic stats for the last year. Any page with five or less views I marked as a potential candidate for deletion. And, working with the RCPCH web team, we determined which content could be transferred directly or needed to be re-written.
Each team was responsible for their own content, so the decision to delete or re-write content was quite politically sensitive.
Based on the outcomes of the user interviews and the content strategy, I created a site map that showed where the new content types would fit into the site structure. Then, working with the development team, I developed a series of process and entity relationship diagrams, detailing key pieces of functionality and how the site would interact with outside systems.
From this, I was able to create a set of detailed mobile-first, responsive wireframes, covering content types, listings, challenging functionality, such as search, and key landing pages.
To ensure – and to prove – the new site would be easier to use than the old one, I ran a series of user tests:
- I used tree testing to validate the new map. By clicking through the menu structure could users find the content they were looking for?
- Using first-click testing I tested page features. Could people find calls to action or particular options on pages?
The final deliverable from the entire UX process was a document containing detailed information about every aspect of the new site, including content types, fields, taxonomy, user roles and permissions, user flows, entity relationships, data security and more.
Handover and development
Once the client had signed off the UX, I worked closely with the design team to complete the visual design, using a component-based approach, and the development team to implement the plans correctly.
Once development was complete, RCPCH had the substantial task of publishing their content into the new site. We trained a representative from each team on the CMS, every team being responsible for re-writing and publishing their own content. This took at least a year to complete as there was so much to do.
The project took over three years, from pitch to launch. The IA phase took about nine months, and the site was launched in March 2018.
- User research
- Information architecture
- User testing
- Creative direction
- Drupal 8
- Axure RP
- Atomic design