Case study: Small Business Administration website
Like at many large organizations, the SBA’s website was easy to add to and difficult to manage. After years without meaningful governance, the website had grown to tens of thousands of pages — an expensive mess for government staff to manage, and a source of major frustration for customers looking for clear answers from their government.
We inventoried all the content, audited it for performance, interviewed dozens of users and stakeholders, and assessed the technical viability.
With that, we decided it was best to build a new website from the ground up. We designed a new IA, a new content model, and a strategy for delivering a citizen-centered website on a headless CMS.
Our greatest challenge was establishing our team’s ability to make necessary decisions.
Here’s some of what went into this project:
- Create a content style guide
- Design and write content for dozens of pages (to replaces hundreds)
- Migrate and organize hundreds of forms, reports, and data
Content strategy and management
- Automated and manual qualitative and quantitive audits
- Establish content operations process
- Create a governing committee, governance framework, and document digital standards and policies
User-centered design advocacy
- Regular presentations and one-on-one conversations to get stakeholder buy-in
- Content modeling, content style, and content production workshops
- Write research plans for SBA.gov
- User interviews, menu testing, and quantitative analysis
- Reconcile multiple IAs with user expectations
- Design a flexible technical content model
The normal process
Start with basics
After speaking with the product owner, I turn to site maps, content inventories & audits, and an in-depth look at available analytics to find the story of what the site tries to do and how people use it.
Guiding subject matter experts to collaborate productively is a team effort. I try establish written governance framework as soon as possible. I’ve worked with project managers and independently to make sure SMEs are involved, feel ownership, and contribute without feeling the need to micromanage or demand inclusion of FAQs. That’s why the first step after auditing content is auditing the potential contributors and owners.
I pair each section of a website with a targeted audience and an actionable goal. Then, I take a “jobs-to-be-done” approach to understand what content will guide the user to the right outcome. User interviews and testing play a pivotal role.
Website redesign projects: