April 2018 – November 2018
Business Case Background
While I was already working on the Content Atomization project with The City of Calgary, another project identified a need for the skills of an information architect in a minor role. The Content Upgrades project was formed in early 2018 with the intention of making it easier for citizens to do things online by evaluating all of the content on calgary.ca and rewriting it to better align with specific tasks and topics. While the team had a solid contingent of project managers and content writers to manage and perform the core task of rewriting content, the team lacked an individual with the skills to evaluate and organize all of the topics and sub-topics on calgary.ca.
Problems to be Solved
Through a variety of citizen engagement approaches, including both passive and active user research, The City of Calgary recognized that citizens were finding the process of learning about and then receiving City-provided services very challenging. Root cause analysis efforts determined that one of the core problems that needed to be addressed was in how content was created and presented online. Calgary.ca has traditionally been (and continues to be) organized according to business unit, rather than by topic or task. As a result, this approach leads to the same topic or task being discussed in many different locations on calgary.ca, oftentimes with conflicting information causing great frustration for citizens. Even when information is not conflicting, many users find it challenging to receive the complete set of information that they require in order to complete their task. While this information architecture reflects the mental models of internal staff, it fails to adequately capture citizens’ mental models and ultimately fails to provide the information and services that citizens need to fulfill their roles as residents and business owners within Calgary. As a result, the City recognized that a new information architecture would need to be created to better reflect the mental model of citizens and to guide the content team in their efforts.
Solutions and Recommendations
The scope of my involvement on this project was very limited and a key part of the project’s early stages.
Task: Create a new information architecture for calgary.ca
Deliverables: Information Architecture Schema
As I was already performing a content audit on the entirety of calgary.ca for the Content Atomization Project, I simply added to my existing task and included a page-by-page analysis of topics and sub-topics across calgary.ca to establish a starting point for creating a new information architecture. I also facilitated numerous brainstorming and card-sorting workshops with content writers across all business units at the City. The product of these efforts was a list of approximately 200 topics and sub-topics covered by one or more business units at the City and a preliminary information architecture schema. After several weeks of refining this schema, I presented a revised beta information architecture schema for the content writers to review. After providing a moderate window for feedback and making some minor adjustments, this final information architecture shema was delivered to the project team.
Task: Provide ad-hoc user experience design expertise
Although my official deliverables had been provided early on, I remained available to the project team throughout the duration of my contract with the City to provide ad-hoc UX design expertise. I worked with individual content writers and business units to further flesh out the information architecture for specific topics. I also worked with a project analyst to apply a prioritization matrix to the complete list of topics and sub-topics.
Risk Factors and Assessment
This project is an ongoing initiative that will take several years to fully complete. However, the first few topics that were optimized have seen substantial increases in task completion and user satisfaction. It is anticipated that this work will continue to yield positive results and prepare calgary.ca for migration to a new content management system.