The Alberta Environment team had an existing portal for oil sands related information that was not meeting the needs of internal and external stakeholders and it needed to be fixed quickly.
To better understand the challenges more, we conducted remote and in-person interviews with stakeholders including industry, NGOs, researchers, educators, and the general public. In these interviews we explore information needs, sources, how content and information was used, issues and opportunities.
We also conducted a closed card sort online to explore categorization, mental models, and conducted post-card sort discussions with participants. This helped us identify challenges with their current content, it’s organization, that there were gaps in the format of content needed by researchers and NGOs, and problems with content searching and information architecture.
We also developed detailed personas based on our research, which assisted us in focussing our efforts on the needs of users key to Alberta Environment’s success.
Using the existing site and our research findings, I developed a detailed mental model diagram that showed the visual alignment between the features/content valued by the organization and the concepts that people mentioned during our research.
- The top portion represented the tasks expressed by participants in our interview process.
- The middle portion represented the features that users mentioned specifically in our interviews.
- The bottom portion represented the content that Alberta Environment wants to make available on the portal.
- The popularity of tasks, and the gaps in content, could be used to guide content development
With this visual representation of the research, we were able to identify content important to different stakeholders and identify gaps or missing information. And also related content and information to our personas.
To assist with providing a more effective search, I created a detailed set of metadata recommendations which were later worked into the design of a revised site search and facets.
From the research we were able to finalize final wireframes and site flows, providing AER with a redesigned portal, aligned to stakeholder needs, and with content and information better organized and available in formats needed.