All posts by hollysthoughts2019

Kindness Matters

kind

Life today is hectic and demands our total attention. Not every day is full of happiness; we all have our struggles big or small. We tend to become consumed in our everyday routines and forget to see others around us. Kindness can be an interaction with an animal, saying hello to a stranger or simply picking up the trash that fell from someone’s pocket. Kindness is simple yet powerful. One act of kindness every day not only helps others; it will help you feel better as well.

“Be nice to each other. It’s really all that matters.”

– Dawn Hochsprung, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary

A kind word, a smile, opening a door or helping someone carry a heavy item can all be acts of kindness. The incredible thing is — kindness is contagious. Try it! If you smile at someone, they will smile back and carry it forward by smiling at someone else. Your one act of kindness can snowball into several acts of kindness around you.

Typography design

This week I have taken the word “Kindness,” and with the assistance of Illustrator, I have used design to show what kindness means to me. I displayed feelings within the work by using color and design elements. KIND is empathy, as this is the root of KINDNESS. I placed a heart above the “I” to represent love and the “period” after KINDNESS to emphasize — it’s that simple. Kindness, period. You require nothing else except your simple act of kindness every day.

According to Landa, “type should always be an active contributor and can, in fact, express the entire message.” This statement summarizes my work this week in typography design. I am using type as the basis for my design to invoke the feeling of happiness, love, and the meaning of kindness in one image. I kept in mind readability when choosing colors and emphasis when selecting the heavy block letters in “KIND” using the font Myriad Pro. For the “ness” I used a script font called Serenity
from dafont, which brought softness to the design. The heart I drew within Illustrator to give a handwriting touch to it. The typefaces were chosen for contrast and differentiation while limiting the design to two fonts.

The word kindness brings meaning and provokes thought in the reader. By using a sans serif and script font, I have created an emphasis on KIND while bringing in the script font for “ness” to display a distinction between KIND and KINDness. I chose to keep it on a white canvas because the word is the design, and I did not want to take away from the impact. For this design, the type is the image and the message.

Have fun

Typography, when well crafted, can take an ordinary design and make it extraordinary. The more you play around with typography, the more you will realize the powerful impact that words achieve within your design. It’s fascinating and one of my favorite elements of design. Pay attention to the details in your favorite designs to pick out the typography impact. Have fun exploring the world of typography; you may see things a little differently now.

 

 

Resources:

Landa, R. (2019). Graphic design solutions. Australia: Cengage.

 

Understanding Content Needs

Pepsi Wallpaper

Sunday, February 2, 2020, is Super Bowl. The day of not only football but the release of highly anticipated commercials; these commercials will play an integral role in ad campaigns and emails in the following days. The ads look flawless and smooth, and they have been planning for months with endless revisions to their content, content strategy, and content marketing. You may be wondering why all this planning goes into a few seconds of a commercial. This planning determines the message content that they are trying to push out to their audience; and how the content in their social, print, and email campaigns will reach you in the coming days. The content may, if they have done their work well, influence your decisions on how you interact with their product. It may also not do well after all the planning and work that went into executing. In this case, they will need to revisit their planning, determine where they can adjust the strategy and push the revised content out again.

There is one advertisement that amazes me to this day. I don’t like soda very much, and I particularly do not like Pepsi. But the content in their ads, using just a few words, will trigger the sound of pouring fizzling soda, the sweetness of it on a summer day, that I immediately crave their drink. It could be as simple as hearing “ahhh” or “refreshing.” Yet through my studies and research, I know that these few words are not what worked. It was the overall campaign, the banners, and adverts I have seen on billboards or magazines that triggered my response. They spend countless hours and dollars to create campaigns that speak to their audience, build brand awareness, and increase their profit. They start with a content strategy.

Content strategy

Wikipedia defines content strategy as “… the planning, development, and management of content – written or in other media”. It is the master plan or blueprint that details how content will be used to achieve business goals. The content strategy should answer the following questions:

  • Why is the content being published?
  • Where is the content being published?
  • Who is the audience, and what are we trying to achieve?
  • What is the schedule or timeline?
  • How should you organize and structure your content?
  • How does your audience find and interact with your content?

Answering these questions requires research and thoughtful strategic planning. With the content strategy, you will precisely know what, why, and how your business is planning on using content to accomplish their goals. The same content and content strategy should not be reused year to year; you should revise them to fit the changing needs of your audience. Doing so will ensure you continue to create a successful campaign.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a method used to attract and retain customers by creating and delivering relevant, meaningful content. It’s a combination of sales and organic marketing, all in one. In content marketing, you select specific audiences that you want to influence. Then you create content to guide their behavior toward a conversion result. A few examples of content marketing pieces are:

  • Blog posts
  • White papers or case studies
  • Social media marketing
  • SEO

The difference

A good content marketing strategy can only work if there is a strong content strategy as the foundation. Content strategy answers these questions: what are you trying to achieve, how should you organize and structure your content, and where should you publish your content. This foundation helps to align branding, messaging, and all aspects of content marketing to the overall content goals of your company before you begin to market it actively. Just as we need water, food, and sleep to thrive, you need content, content strategy, and content marketing to achieve a successful campaign.

Make sure you have a solid content strategy as your foundation before working through your content marketing strategy. In doing this, your content will have purpose and produce measurable results.

 

 

 

References:

i-scoop. (n.d.). Content marketing: defining a content marketing strategy. Retrieved from i-scoop.eu: https://www.i-scoop.eu/content-marketing/defining-content-marketing-strategy/

Content Marketing Institute. (n.d.). Developing a Content Marketing Strategy. Retrieved from contentmarketinginstitute.com: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/developing-a-strategy/

 

 

 

 

Content Audit & Analysis Report – The Jaffa Institute

Using Screaming Frog SEO Spider, I have conducted a content audit and analysis of The Jaffa Institute. They are a private non-profit organization whose mission is to provide educational, nutritional, therapeutic, and social enrichment programs. These programs assist children in developing positive attitudes and skills to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty in the impoverished communities of Jaffa, South Tel Aviv, and Bat Yam in Israel.

Content Audit_Analysis Report

The Story of my Chaos Through Pictures

assignment2

Telling a story through pictures creates a connection with the world around us. Life doesn’t happen in one frame or moment; it’s several layers of events that create a composition.

Photoshop is one of many programs within the creative suite used to express creativity. I haven’t used Photoshop very much over the last couple of years, so I am excited to begin exploring it again.  Every time I utilize the program, I find something new and look forward to learning more in the coming weeks.

“Life, as we know it, is more like a video. We are aware of a multitude of things happening around us all at once.”

Composition

This week I used Photoshop to explore its composition tools to create a story. I used several images of my kids and our dogs to show the chaos in capturing a few “perfect” pictures. Although our dog did not pull a photo down from the barn, this story displays the laughter, craziness, and love we shared. The composition was created by cutting images out utilizing the tools within the program and placing them in a way to give the illusion of depth and perception. I used the transform tools to distort the images, drop shadows, and a lot of color balance to create contrast. Additionally, I used the burn and dodge tools to work on the shadows and highlights. For the string and clips, I created these in Illustrator and brought them into Photoshop, where I adjusted the color and added shadows to bring them into the image.

My composition has ten elements to create my story. I used the side of the barn where we had a photoshoot this past fall and kept the color and lighting in the mid-tones as it was an overcast late fall day. I used various shading to create the appearance of objects being closer, further away, or behind another element. I did struggle with the lighting on the bottom right images; I wanted them to be brighter but didn’t want them to appear washed out.

The centerline of the composition is the string of images showcased on the side of the barn. They show silliness, seriousness, and fun. The illusion of the dog grabbing a photo draws your eyes back up to the images – and you resist the urge to giggle. The dog on the bottom left catches your attention while pulling your eyes back to the other dog, causing mischief. It’s a collection of chaos that shows the inner emotions of my family, my tribe.

Focal point

A key element in design composition has a strong focal point. It does not matter how many elements you have included; however, you need to draw the viewer into an essential part of the design. Design communicates or tells a story; therefore, the focal point should be the most important message to the audience. The focal point for my composition is in the bottom right, my children. The entire design is about them and their relationship. They adore each other; their love is evident in these pictures. They are siblings, and it can be sticky, including when the dogs get in the act. But the focal point is her lifting him, making him smile, and that is the message I wanted to communicate to the viewer. Their relationship, even on the bad days, is rock-solid and unbreakable.

Robin Lande stated in her book Graphic Design Solutions, “Composition is the form, the whole spatial property, and structure resulting from the arrangement of graphic elements — type and images — in relation to one another and to the format, created to visually communicate.” Catching a person’s attention is essential for someone to be drawn to your design.

Conclusion

Photoshop is only one window into the creative world of design composition. It’s important to remember that design is all around us and not only speaks to our needs but gives us emotion with which to connect. I will continue to explore the tools within Photoshop, and I encourage everyone to step outside their comfort zone to start creating their story.

References:

Tenenbaum, Sharon. (22 January 2020.) Telling a Visual Story Through Composition and Perspective. Retrieved from http://www.sharontenenbaum.comhttps://www.sharontenenbaum.com/blog/2020/1/22/telling-a-visual-story-through-composition-and-perspective

Landa, R. (2019). Graphic design solutions. Boston, MA: Cengage.

Preparing for Success with Content Strategy

IMG_0092

There are many important factors in developing a successful content strategy specifically for digital. With the knowledge and tools that are available which show the effectiveness of producing a content marketing strategy, more companies are developing content planning teams. Although companies have increased content planning objectives, they are still not achieving the results they were hoping for. This is due to lacking critical factors when putting together the strategy which are important for success.

“With the advancement of technology, communication has now changed from being a written medium to a virtual medium through the growth of the internet.”

The first step is finding the problems within the existing content so you can offer solutions to convince others that a strategy is needed. The problems become solutions which lead to opportunities for a successful end product.

What’s wrong

You will need to document what is wrong with the content to get started. The most common issues with content are:

  • Weak calls to action
  • The content is not speaking to the audience you are trying to reach
  • Voice or tone is off brand
  • Content is not directed to what you want them to do or their need
  • Content is not updated
  • Content is too long

You may use a combination of methods to review the site’s content to come up with a hypothesis of what is wrong with the current content.

  • Conducting an audit of the site will allow you to examine the content. This will help you review the audience, broken links, accessibility and how easy it is to scan for the key message.
  • To focus on the issues, you can conduct an analytics review which takes a look at the user experience. This includes pageview, user paths through content, search terms, how it was accessed and traffic sources. Understanding how the user experiences the site will help determine how the content should be written and placed.
  • Another way to see how the content is working is to conduct user testing. Actual user feedback will help you empathize with the user and how they felt during their experience. This will include readability and being able to key word search.

Selling the need

Once you have identified the problems, the data and the solutions pulled together, you will need to get the budget approved to move forward. Compile your results and include it in your proposal and speak from the heart including any previous experience with results of using a content strategy.

  • Claim – The statement you are asking them to accept
  • Grounds – The data and facts that support your claim
  • Warrant – How the data is relevant to your claim
  • Backing – Information that supports your warrant
  • Qualifier – The data that supports the warrant
  • Rebuttal – The response to anticipated challenges to your claim

If you are not able to obtain approval for the budget in order to proceed, don’t feel discouraged. Business objectives change and there are several small changes that can be made in the meantime. Continue to collect data and revisit at a later date.

Preparing for success

Getting started you will need to identify the key stakeholders and project manage every step of the strategy to keep everyone on task. Set project objectives, expectations and timeframes for what you will need to complete. It’s important that you have this content prepared and ready to go well ahead of the timeline. In addition, you’ll need to know which type of content performs well in different contexts, that is, with different audiences and also across platforms. Using the data, you have prepared will help you plan out the content needed.

Possessing the ability to continually problem-solve and learn new things will help you be successful. It does take some patience, creativity and an analytical review; as well as, to some extent at least, experimentation. Have a clear vision of your goals, and a business plan in place as well as up-to-date tools to continue to review results.

Conclusion

The importance of content marketing is going to increase tremendously in coming years. Keeping up to date on trends, utilizing tools for data collection and analysis, conducting testing and updating content will lead to successful content strategy.

 

References:

Talk Business. (n.d.). 5 essential factors for a successful content marketing strategy. Retrieved from http://www.talk-business.co.uk: https://www.talk-business.co.uk/2015/04/23/5-essential-factors-successful-content-marketing-strategy/

Verblio. (n.d.). How Agencies Should Sell Content Marketing Strategy to Clients. Retrieved from http://www.verblio.comhttps://www.verblio.com/sell-content-marketing-strategy

Digital Marketing Institute. (n.d.). How Agencies Should Sell Content Marketing Strategy to Clients. Retrieved from http://www.digitalmarektinginstitute.com: https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/blog/5-essential-tips-for-a-successful-content-marketing-strategy

Casey, M. (2015). The Content Strategy Toolkit
     Peachpit, a division of Pearson Education.

I am my content

IMG_0091

I work in Healthcare communications creating customized solutions for clients to meet their member’s needs.  The content is the heart of the message whether it is digital or print. Whatever the main message is, the content will provide the member with the information they need to be successful in their wellness journey utilizing the resources and tools available to them. For my industry, the main issue is that members don’t understand their benefits or the additional tools that have ben provided. In order to clarify communications, it has to be in easy to understand content that delivers keep points with clear directions on how to access tools.

In order to keep the members attention in multiple communications, the subject has to change giving new information to keep their interest. Deciding how much content is needed can be tricky. While you want to give the member important information, you have to consider the method of delivery being used.

  • Email – Keep the content short and precise making sure important call to actions remain above the folder.
  • Mailers – Designed according to the amount of space needed. Postcards will be short, while self-mailers can be a few pages/panels.
  • Website – House many different content pieces and articles past as well as present. The site can also be linked to from other communications such as mailers or emails.

“Very best content strategy is one that mirrors the users’ mixed diet. There’s no reason to limit yourself to only one content type.”

In order to make a communication successful, the content has to be written after a thoughtful outline has been developed. The outline will pull all of your thoughts together providing direction to a writer as well as the client if needed. You need to understand your audience, what the issue or main topic is and most importantly how you intend to offer a solution. This doesn’t just apply to healthcare; this concept can be used in other industries such as fashion, vacation and technology. For example, if you are targeting a male audience for watches in an email campaign, you will want to design towards a male demographic. The content has to have a masculine tone and a solution as to why he must have this watch.

Additionally, I have worked within content management systems. I managed the content for well-being campaigns within a mobile app. To get started, it was important to understand the audience and break the content down into sections or content mapping. Once this mapping had been established, further planning was done to ensure that all of the content was making sense as it led into the next topic. The mobile app was designed to give the user access to health and wellbeing content while earning incentives to continue through the program. The content was written to make sure the user was engaged and continually given the opportunity to learn more. The user would choose a weekly topic to work on, and as they completed an activity, they earned incentives. The campaign has proven successful and continues to grow while helping the members live a healthier life.

I have learned a lot about content working in print, web, email and mobile. Every scenario has a different solution, but the backbone of a successful campaign lies within the content. The most successful designs I have been a part of were due to working closely with a copy writer from the start. As the design progressed, having the copy writer by my side to edit and adjust content ensured the objective was being met. It is important in the beginning of any project, large or small, to have a clear plan on how to tackle the content needed. Outlines and content mapping are essential in staying organized and visualizing where you intend the project to go before even starting. Content is part of everything we do and see. To understand how to develop a successful campaign or project, you must first understand the importance of content.

 

 

References:

Nielsen, J. (2007 November 11). Long vs. Short Articles as Content Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.nngroup.com: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/content-strategy-long-vs-short/?lm=content-strategy&pt=course

Rampton, J. (2016 October 2). 5 Key Components To A Successful Content Marketing Campaign. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/10/02/5-key-components-to-a-successful-content-marketing-campaign/#551090655ebc

(n.d.). What Is a Content Map? The Definitive Guide. Retrieved from http://www.conductor.com: https://www.conductor.com/learning-center/content-map-guide/

How has content changed?

IMG_0090

When I hear the term decade, it sounds like a lot of time; but when I say 2010, it feels like yesterday. Ten years ago, I was getting married, our daughter was 5 years old and we had a lot of plans ahead of us. Social media was a big part of our wedding, showing pictures of the events leading up to the big day and then sharing pictures of our wedding with our loved ones. If you step back in time and look at how content strategy has changed in the last decade, you will realize how significantly it has evolved.

To drive traffic ten years ago, companies would just keep pushing content out to reach as many people as they could hoping volume increased traffic to their sites. Within the last decade, the strategy has become much more fine-tuned. Marketers are looking to identity and satisfy the needs of those they want to reach. This requires research and data in order to define the needs of the customers they wish to influence.

According to Brian Dean, in order to keep up with successful content marketing, you need to understand SEO, know how to promote content and be able to use analytics to measure the success. The outcome will influence the future strategy.

“I’m mapping out what I want to say relative to the goals I’ve set, so that every article contributes to my overarching business objectives in some way. It’s more work for sure, but it’s necessary these days.”

Understanding the audience

In order to create successful content, you must understand to whom you are writing. This research can include creating personas. Content is no longer about key words but rather about finding the pain points of your customers and creating solutions to their needs. Once you’ve identified the problem or need, you can start brainstorming keywords that are relevant to building your content. Content is no longer just about traffic – it is about conversions. Content that is built around keywords that demonstrate zero empathy – don’t work.

“So it’s important to create content that caters to your goals.”

Summary

While I may no longer share photos of getting ready for our wedding, I do share the kids’ milestones and our yearly family vacation. As my life continues to change, so too has my use of social media changed in regard to the subject matter I choose to share.

For content strategy in marketing, a lot has evolved and influenced the direction of how marketers generate what they write. The research involves learning who the audience is, how to address their needs and finding solutions to drive traffic back to a site.

It is not just a one stop shopping to see traffic increase. It’s an evolving process that requires learning from mistakes and improving how to connect with the customers.

 

 

References:

Cullinan, F. (2013, June 24th). A brief history of content strategy | Firehead. Retrieved from firehead.net: https://firehead.net/2013/06/a-brief-history-of-content-strategy/

Gillen, P. (2019, January 14). Content Strategy Answers. Retrieved from contentstrategyanswers.com: https://contentstrategyanswers.com/

Halvorson, K. (2018, December 18). Ten Years Later: The Discipline of Content Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.braintraffic.com: https://www.braintraffic.com/blog/ten-years-later-the-discipline-of-content-strategy

Patel, S. (2019, April 1). 10 Years of Content: How My Approach Has Changed from 2009 to 2019. Retrieved from http://www.sujanpatel.com: https://sujanpatel.com/content-marketing/10-years/

Dean, B. (2019, February 19). We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.backlinko.com: https://backlinko.com/content-study

Discovering Abstract Art

Abstract-Art-Painting-Mirza-Zuplijanin_HC

An abstract painting does not depict a person, place, or thing. With abstract art, the subject of the work is what you see: color, shapes, brushstrokes, size, scale, and, in some cases, the process itself. The painting may access your imagination where you may see an environment or it may bring on an emotion specific to you.

Abstract art is one of my favorite forms of art to view. I love that it will make me think and invoke an emotion. While looking at an abstract painting, I find myself falling into the layers of colors and shapes. I try to imagine what the artist was trying to share with the world and come up with my own interpretations. Painting is an art form I have never been able to master; I struggle with perfection instead of going with my heart.

Replicating a work of art

Abstract-Art-Painting-Mirza-Zuplijanin

Photo: Abstract Art Gallery. Artist: Mira Zupljanin

This week I used Photoshop to replicate an abstract painting by Mira Zupljanin. I chose Photoshop because I wanted to explore the brushes and explore the colors that were used. There are so many aspects that I love about this painting. The choice of colors that seem to highlight off of one another. The perspective of the line from which the colors grow and the choice of bold colors that layer onto one another. It almost at times looks as though it is a reflection under the horizontal line. My eyes initially focus on the middle of the painting then move back and forth between the colors on each end.

Photoshop brushes

This was not easy and although my attempt does not look pretty, I feel like I was able to experience the levels of colors within the painting. I knew that I would not be able to duplicate the painting but rather focused on the design of the colors using the brushes to build on each stroke. I don’t have very much experience in using brushes for effects, and hope to explore them further within this class.

Abstract-Art-Painting-Mirza-Zuplijanin_HC

“It is an art style that breaks away from drawing art as it is represented in real life. Abstract art is about exploring form and color.”

The group of complex shapes makes a wave of parallel lines. Even with my ghastly attempt at recreating the design, my eyes continually move back and forth, never leaving the design. The contrast of using bold primary colors in a variation of shades gives depth to the painting creating a movement. The lighter colors are in the distance while the louder bold colors are up front.

Summary

My favorite part of this assignment was exploring not only the brushes within Photoshop but the colors layering onto one another. The colors are what bring dimension and depth to the painting by Zupljanin. I have learned how the placement of colors and textures create depth within the painting. I have also found that I have a lot to learn about the brushes within Photoshop and look forward to exploring how to use these going forward.

I encourage you to take a trip to an art museum. Find a painting that catches your eye, take a deep breath and let yourself escape into what you see. Feel the colors and the shadows while letting the different layers within pop out. What does it remind you of? How does it make you feel? Art is the door to finding your creativity.

 

References:

Cleveland, Colleen. (n.d.) What is Abstract Art? – Definition, Techniques, Types & Paintings. Retrieved from http://www.study.com: https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-abstract-art-definition-techniques-types-paintings.html

Lepore, Jennifer. (n.d.) 6 Key Elements to Abstract Art Success. Retrieved from http://www.artistsnetwork.com: https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-subjects/abstract/6-key-elements-abstract-art-success/

Executive Summary – Usability testing

usability-testing-prototype.jpg

Connecticut Family Orthopedics offers a variety of orthopedic care to its patients including urgent care, surgery and physical therapy. The website provides patient information about the practice to existing patients as well as potential patients. The current site offers access to the patient portal, request an appointment and information about the team. There are a lot of useful resources but needs updating for a better user experience. Usability testing was conducted taking a deep look into the design, functionality, navigation, and content. Recommendations for a website redesign are included. The analysis concludes that several improvements can be made to meet the users’ needs.

Methods of Evaluation

The executive summary contains the following items that show where the current website design can improve and analysis on users’ wants, needs and expectations:

·       Competitor analysis

·       Personas and scenarios

·       A proposed interview study

·       A proposed website user survey

·       A card sorting study

·       A proposed diary study

·       Heuristic website evaluation

·       Usability testing sessions report

Analysis Results

The competitive analysis shows that the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website is similar to the other practice’s websites from a content perspective. From a design perspective, there are some areas which the other sites are doing better, such as how the competitors sites have subtle tones such as grey with blue headings and a much smaller heading image. Connecticut Family Orthopedics had the longest navigation bar with 8 drop down categories with several sub topics under each. These should be consolidated with stronger categories to make them easier to navigate and moving the main navigation up to the top of the page. With the main phone number up top, there is no need for the large buttons in the top of the page as most of the information can be easily found in the navigation.

The participants in the card sorting study found the navigation to be lengthy as well as feeling there were too many separate options located at the top of the site. They found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to their frustration. Each participant grouped the topics in 5-6 categories verse the current site having 7 navigation tabs and 6 separate links at the top of the page. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

Participants in the usability study stated that the website has a lot of useful information for their patients on their site. However, the pages are very busy and unorganized. Too much going on created frustration for the participants. Pages need to be organized in smaller navigation with appropriate naming convention as seen in the card sorting exercise. The design needs to be cleaner and more consistent with a responsive design as well as a usable search function for the user.

The content throughout the site is simply written but without specific information related to each category. Organizing the site with relevant information for each category or topic will create a smoother experience for the user.

Recommendations

Suggestions include reducing the clutter on the home page, adding a search function and making the site responsive. Well defined categories, easier to read content with bulleted lists and condensed images to bring the relevant content above the fold. A cohesive, clean design will need to be deployed across all the website’s pages. Existing content should be reviewed and amended to adhere to digital best practices including accessibility.

  • Accessibility
  • Responsive design
  • Create clean overall design with subtle color variations of blue and grey
  • Condense image size to move content above fold
  • Remove top buttons and place in navigation which will be moved up
  • Consolidate the navigation
  • Rename categories in navigation for ease of use
  • Highlight 2-3 important information topics at top with remaining in condensed navigation
  • Search function to find key topics easily
  • Email sign up for newsletter

Competitor Analysis

A competitive analysis is the analysis of competitors and how the businesses compare. By evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of competition, we are able to find a competitive advantage. The Connecticut Family Orthopedic website was compared to competitive practices to assess what is working and what can be improved.  View full analysis

Business and marketing requirements are that the user should be able to easily view the specialties, doctors and access the patient portal for their records as well as to pay their bill. The site needs to be responsive to be viewed easily on laptop, mobile and tablet. They should be able to navigate the site easily to find the different pages and research the facility before visiting. Outpatient services such as therapy should be easy to access and if questions arise, be able to find the contact information quickly.

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website is similar to the other practice’s websites from a content perspective. From a design perspective, there are some areas which the other sites are doing better, such as how the competitors sites have subtle tones such as grey with blue and a much smaller heading image. Connecticut Family Orthopedics had the longest navigation bar with 8 drop down categories with several sub topics under each. These should be consolidated with stronger categories to make them easier to navigate and moving the main navigation up to the top of the page. With the main phone number up top, there is no need for the large buttons in the top of the page as most of the information can be easily found in the navigation.

Personas and Scenarios

A Persona is a fictional representation of an actual user or perspective patient of Connecticut Family Orthopedics website. These personas will help drive design decisions by viewing common user needs and bringing them to the forefront of planning before design has actually started. In this study, three personas of potential Connecticut Family Orthopedics users were analyzed. The three personas ranged in age and life stages to gain insight of who the user of the website is and what their needs are. View Personas

Interview

Interviews are essential to having a better understanding of the users’ needs. Interview users with a script and questions will help to gain insight in how clients of Connecticut Family Orthopedics interact with the site and what their needs are.

  1. Which features are most important to visitors of Connecticut Family Orthopedics?
  2. How can Connecticut Family Orthopedics improve the navigation and experience for its users?
  3. What would make the website a helpful resource for patients going through orthopedics needs?

View introduction and questions here.

Survey

Surveys were conducted in order to obtain qualitative and quantitative research about Connecticut Family Orthopedics website visitors and how they feel about their experience. This is to get a better understanding of how they interact with the site as well as what they feel is needed for an easier user experience.

View survey questions here.

Diary Study

A Diary Study is important to better understand how users interact with the site. Participants will document their experiences throughout the study rather than a one-time interaction. This useful information from visitors will show what the users’ needs are when visiting the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website.

Questions the study will attempt to answer

  1. What reasons are the users visiting the site and are they finding their needs met?
  2. How easy or difficult do users find the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website to navigate?

Questions and tasks for the participants

Users will be asked a series of questions each week that will help understand the users experience when interacting with the site. Expected questions:

  • Did you visit the Connecticut Family Orthopedics office this week?
  • If so, did you visit the website prior to your appointment?
    • What information were you searching for on the website?
    • Were you able to find this information?
    • What could have been better about this experience?
  • If you did not visit the site this week, is there something that would have been helpful for you on the site prior to your visit?

Amount of people for the study

There will be 15 participants for this study. This would allow for diversity of users, including people of all ages, website ability, and expectations.

How the participants will be chosen

There will be two ways for participates to sign up. One will be in person when they check in at the front desk in office. There will be a flyer with information and fields to fill out for signing up if they are site users. The second will be a pop-up box on the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website when visitors open the website. This pop-up box will invite users to take part in the study, as active users of the site are more likely to participate. As an incentive, participants will be given a $50 Visa gift card at the end of the study.

Additionally, at the end of the study all participates will be invited to part take in a one-time open conversation with other participates as well as office staff. This will help each participant to add to one another’s feedback. Including the office staff will open new conversations about the users’ needs within their care as well as the use of the website in general. Since the site is about the user’s overall heath it will be beneficial to hear from them about their entire experience which leads them to the site. The onetime session will include food and a $25 gift card to an area restaurant.

Methods to be used
The best option to use for this study will be email. The email will remind the participant to engage and answer the questions given for each prompt. The email will have a link that will take them to a landing page with the questions to be easily answered. This can easily be completed from a laptop or mobile device and the answers will be collected.

Potential benefits and drawbacks to this method

Benefit – A benefit to email is many users check their email continuously throughout the day. They can easily click on the link to answer the questions from the email straight from their phone or from the laptop. It’s a quick way to gather data from each user once they respond to the questions on the landing page.

Drawback – A drawback may be if a user does not use email regularly or is easily frustrated by online surveys.

Length of Study

This study will last for six weeks. This will give several entries from the participants each week during the six-week study.

Analysis of Results
The results will be collected and analyzed signal-contingently. The Affinity Diagram will be used to help analyze the data to determine if there are trends in the results. A service provider such as Hyperquality, who is an independent quality assurance firm that provide unbiased monitoring and analysis of customer interactions, can help manage entries. They will provide a platform where the data can be analyzed.

Email sample:

Dear <PARTICIPANT NAME>,

Thank you for taking part in this study to help us improve your online experience with Connecticut Family Orthopedics . You will receive an email at the email address you have provided every week reminding you to submit your answers for the week through a link within the email. Your answers will be analyzed to help Connecticut Family Orthopedics enhance your online visit. The first prompt will begin on Sunday, MONTH XX, 20XX and end when you submit your last entry starting on Sunday, MONTH XX, 20XX. If you have any questions, you may contact us at any time at email@email.com.

Thank you again for your participation,

Connecticut Family Orthopedics

Card Sorting

Card sorting is a method used to help design or evaluate the information architecture of a site. In a card sorting session, participants organize topics into categories that make sense to them and they may also help you label these groups.

Introduction

Total of three participants were used for this study. Participants completed the activity remotely using Optimal Workshop as we viewed the activity together through WebEx.

To begin, was asked two questions related to Connecticut Family Orthopedics and then they will see 30 topics to begin sorting. They are asked to group the topics together in the most natural way to them. Then name the groups in a way that makes sense. Each session is recorded and the participant is asked to read and sign the agreement.

Participants will be directed to the welcome screen:

Welcome to the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website study
Welcome to this study for Connecticut Family Orthopedics, and thank you for agreeing to participate!

This activity shouldn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes to complete. Your response will help us to organize the content on Connecticut Family Orthopedics. Find out how on the next page…

Participant questions

Before a planned office appointment, do you visit the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website?

  • Yes
  • No

How many times have you visited the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website this year?

  • More than once a week
  • Once a Month
  • Several Times a Year
  • Once a year or less

Picture1

Picture2

Connecticut Family Orthopedics Card Sorting Data Analysis

Test dates 29 – 30 November 2019

This analysis was based on a remote activity study of 3 participants. The participants were asked to visit the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website before the study. Each participant was given 30 topic cards (pulled from the existing home page) and asked to place the cards in groups. This was conducted through Optimal Workshop and the resulting data was done using similarity matrix.

Picture3.png

The primary issue found was that the navigation was lengthy as well as several separate options were located at the top of the site. The participants found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to the frustration. The card sorting allowed the participant to choose what they felt made sense when they were looking through the topics. Each participant grouped the topics in 5-6 categories verse the current site having 7 navigation tabs and 6 separate links at the top of the page. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

Usability Inspection – Heuristic Evaluation

Heuristic evaluation is a key part of designing a great product that users can easily engage with and find value in their interaction. It is a thorough assessment of a product’s user interface, and its purpose is to detect usability issues that may occur when users interact with a product, and identify ways to resolve them. The heuristic evaluation process is conducted against a predetermined set of usability principles known as heuristics. The process relies on in-depth tests run by several usability experts at a time.

This heuristic evaluation on the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website was to review specific areas of the website. This evaluation helped to review what is a successful experience for the users. Each heuristic principle is graded on severity.

View Heuristic evaluation

Website Usability Testing Sessions

Usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy a website is to use to better understand the users experience. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a website is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals. This testing allows the researcher to observe users go through preset tasks to gather information about experience and length to complete. The information is then used to identify issues and recommend changes for a better overall experience.

Introduction

Three participants were asked to complete five standard website tasks and their experience was viewed using Webex. The usability testing was conducted on the current Connecticut Family Orthopedics website provide data and recommendations for a redesign. Before the usability testing started, they were given an introduction and background questions. Participants were also asked for verbal feedback during and after the meeting. Just before the session began, the participants were emailed the list of tasks and a consent form. A few initial questions were asked of each participant to get them comfortable before starting.

Participants

Participant 1

  • Female
  • Retired – Technology Director
  • 74 years old
  • College Graduate
  • Spends about 10-15 hours per week using the Internet
  • Types of sites usually browsed: travel, shopping
  • Favorite websites: CVS, WebMD, MSN

Participant 2

  • Male
  • Service Director
  • 39 years old
  • College Graduate
  • Spends about 10-15 hours per week using the Internet (not work related)
  • Types of sites usually browsed: Social, entertainment, shopping
  • Favorite websites: Facebook, Amazon

Participant 3

  • Female
  • Communications Director
  • 44 years old
  • College Graduate
  • Spends about 15-20 hours per week using the Internet (not work related)
  • Types of sites usually browsed: Social, news, shopping
  • Favorite websites: Facebook, Sephora, Amazon

Evaluation tasks

  1. You have an appointment with Dr. Gray this week. Locate the office address.
  2. You have just twisted your ankle and need emergency care. Locate the hours the walk in is opened today.
  3. For this task, you want to set up a payment plan. You need to fill out a credit card authorization form. Locate this form for download.
  4. You would like to request and appointment. Locate the area to do this and fill out the contact form.
  5. You are very active on social media and are interested to see if there are any recommendations posted on their pages. Find the Facebook link.

Analysis

Task 1: You have an appointment with Dr. Gray this week. Locate the office address.

Results: Minor difficultly. All participants were looking for a tab in the navigation for location. Two participants went to contact us while the third went to the bottom of the page. The address is located on the bottom of the page and the contact us tab will bring you to a page that has the hours and phone number. This page is shorter in content so the bottom of the page is brought up for the user to see the location. All three participants commented that the location should be clearly marked on the contact us as well as possibly at the top of the page. One participant commented that a search function would help locate hard to find topics.

Task 2: You have just twisted your ankle and need emergency care. Locate the hours the walk in is opened today.

Results: Moderate difficulty. The participants did not know that the urgent care was called OrthoPrompt. They were looking for either urgent care or walk in within the navigation. Once they started clicking around, out of frustration, they were able to figure out that the OrthoPrompt tab was for the urgent care. They were able to locate the hours easily once on the page. The comment was that this should be labeled as urgent care for people in emergency need.

Task 3: For this task, you want to set up a payment plan. First, you need to fill out a credit card authorization form. Locate this form for download. 

Results: Mild difficulty. The participants all went directly to the insurance and billing but hesitated with the dropdown as patient forms. They would look around before heading back to this election and clicking on the patient forms. Once on the page they located the form quickly. The comment was that there should be a billing dropdown for billing specific forms. The page that they were brought to had disclosures, patient forms as well as the authorization form for credit cards.

Task 4: You would like to request and appointment. Locate the area to do this and fill out the contact form.

Results: Easy. All three participates found this at the top of the page. There are two locations on the page to make an appointment, one at the top and the other is in the main navigation. They did question why it was located in two places.

Task 5: You are very active on social media and are interested to see if there are any recommendations posted on their pages. Find the Facebook link.

Results: Easy. All three participants found the social media links with ease. They are located on the bottom of page as seen in most websites. There were no additional comments on this task.

Issues found:

  • Difficulty finding office details
  • Content on pages is lengthy and relevant to current topic
  • Navigation is confusing do to organization, duplications and relevant category topics
  • Address is only located at the footer

Recommendations:

  • Consolidate the navigation
  • Rename categories in navigation for ease of use
  • Create clean overall design
  • Responsive design
  • Highlight 2-3 important information topics at top with remaining in condensed navigation

Recommended navigation:

  • Stay connected
  • Patient Portal
  • Resources
  • Services
  • About us
  • Additionally, at the bottom links for:
    • Newsletter Sign up
    • Social Media links

Conclusion

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website has a lot of useful information for their patients on their site. However, the pages are very busy and unorganized. Too much going on created frustration for the participants. Pages need to be organized in smaller navigation with appropriate naming convention as seen in the card sorting exercise. The design needs to be cleaner and more consistent with a responsive design as well as a usable search function for the user.

The primary issue found was that the navigation was lengthy as well as several separate options were located at the top of the site. The participants found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to the frustration. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

 

Usability Testing Session

Usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy a website is to use from a users’ perspective in order to better understand the users experience. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a website is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals. This testing allows the researcher to observe users preforming preset tasks to gather information about user experience and length of time to complete each task. The information is then used to identify issues and recommend changes for a better overall experience.

Why is Usability Important?

The goal of usability testing is to identify any usability problems, collect data on participants’ experience such as the time it took to complete the task as well as determine overall user satisfaction on the website. If a website is too difficult to navigate or does not articulate a clear purpose, users will become frustrated and leave the site. Testing websites is an important task in order to eliminate user frustration and quickly provide the user with the desired information.

Testing and Results

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website provides patient information about the practice to existing patients as well as potential patients. The current site offers access to the patient portal, request an appointment and information about the team. There are a lot of useful resources but the site needs updating for a better user experience.

Three participants were asked to complete five standard website tasks and their experience was viewed using WebEx. The usability testing was conducted by me on the current Connecticut Family Orthopedics website to provide data and recommendations for a redesign. Before the usability testing started, participants were given an introduction and background questions. Participants were also asked for verbal feedback during and after the meeting.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 1.43.53 PM

Methodology

The three participants were friends/family and their names are confidential. Each participant was given an overview and informed that their tasks within the website would be recorded. All three participants had never visited the site prior to this study.

The testing sessions were administered remotely. Through WebEx, each participant had access and control of the screen while they were being recorded. The website was accessed through Chrome. Just before the session began, the participants were emailed the list of tasks and a consent form. A few initial questions were asked of each participant to get them comfortable before starting.

During testing, participants were asked their thoughts about each task and how difficult or easy they found it. At the end, participants were asked to summarize their experience and how they thought it could have been improved.

Evaluation tasks

  1. You have an appointment with Dr. Gray this week. Locate the office address.
  2. You have just twisted your ankle and need emergency care. Locate the hours the walk in is open today.
  3. For this task, you want to set up a payment plan. You need to fill out a credit card authorization form. Locate this form for download.
  4. You would like to request an appointment. Locate the area to do this and fill out the contact form.
  5. You are very active on social media and are interested to see if there are any recommendations posted on their pages. Find the Facebook link.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 1.45.42 PM.png

Analysis

Task 1 results: Minor difficultly. All participants were looking for a tab in the navigation for location. Two participants went to the Contact Us tab while the third went to the bottom of the page. The address is located on the bottom of the page and the Contact Us tab will bring you to a page that has the hours and phone number. This page is shorter in content so the bottom of the page is brought up for the user to see the location. All three participants commented that the location should be clearly marked on the Contact Us as well as at the top of the page. One participant commented that a search function would help locate hard to find topics. 

Task 2 results: Moderate difficulty. The participants did not know that the urgent care was called OrthoPrompt. They were looking for either urgent care or walk in within the navigation. Once they started clicking around, out of frustration, they were able to figure out that the OrthoPrompt tab was for the urgent care. They were able to locate the hours easily once on the page. The comment was that this should be labeled as urgent care for people in emergency need.

Task 3 results: Mild difficulty. The participants all went directly to the insurance and billing tab but hesitated with the dropdown labeled patient forms. They would look around before heading back to this election and clicking on the patient forms. Once on the page they located the form quickly. The comment was that there should be a billing dropdown for billing specific forms. The page that they were brought to had disclosures, patient forms as well as the authorization form for credit cards.

Task 4 results: Easy. All three participants found this at the top of the page. There are two locations on the page to make an appointment, one at the top and the other is in the main navigation. They did question why it was located in two places.

Task 5 results: Easy. All three participants found the social media links with ease. They are located on the bottom of the page as seen in most websites. There were no additional comments on this task.

Conclusion

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website has a lot of useful information for their patients on their site. However, the pages are very busy and unorganized. This created frustration for the participants. Pages need to be organized in shorter navigation paths with appropriate naming convention as seen in the card sorting exercise. The design needs to be cleaner and more consistent with a responsive design as well as a usable search function for the user.

The primary issue found was that the navigation was lengthy as well as several separate options were located at the top of the site. The participants found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to the frustration. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

Issues found:

  • Difficulty finding office details
  • Content on pages is lengthy and not prioritized with relevant information on top
  • Navigation is confusing due to organization, duplications and relevant category topics
  • Address is only located at the footer

Recommendations:

  • Consolidate the navigation
  • Rename categories in navigation for ease of use
  • Create clean overall design
  • Use responsive design
  • Highlight 2-3 important information topics at top with remaining in condensed navigation

Recommended navigation:

  • Stay connected
  • Patient Portal
  • Resources
  • Services
  • About us
  • Additionally, at the bottom links for:
    • Newsletter Sign up
    • Social Media links

Always Be Testing

Websites need to be constantly evolving as user behavior can change depending on the age, experience and interest of the user. For a successful usability test you must first:

  • Decide what areas to concentrate on
  • Determine what tasks you want to test
  • Determine potential usability issues

Keep asking questions and looking for how to improve.