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Studio Arts College International Florence

Ongoing Website Information Architecture / UX Writing / Content Management

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Executive Summary

Designed to better convey the inspiring purpose and programs of the Studio Arts College International (SACI), a higher education study abroad art institution in Florence, Italy, a large-scale Drupal content migration and responsive website redesign was implemented in 2016, featuring robust features, forms, directories, unique page templates, and an extensive sitemap organizing information for students, admissions, courses and programs, events, galleries, faculty, blog pieces, and alumni. Since the launch of saci-florence.edu, the site has continued to require additions and updates requested by stakeholders and users, resulting in ongoing changes to Information Architecture, UX Writing, content, page layouts, and the sitemap aiming to continue to streamline and enhance the usability and effectiveness of the platform.

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Project Overview

Background: Since SACI’s website redesign in 2016, ongoing updates to the content, Information Architecture, and UX Writing, and page layouts have continued to fine-tuning and streamlining SACI’s message and digital presence, an expansive platform for prospective and admitted students, parents, faculty, alumni, and the wider community portraying the school’s programs, events, student life, news, and more.

Problem: SACI’s initial website redesign, completed in 2016, rebuilt and reorganized the school’s extensive platform with new UI, layout, navigation, and Information Architecture to create a responsive and user-friendly experience. Throughout the years, as changes continue to shape the school, many additions and revisions have been requested. Though presented by a variety of stakeholders and users (the Board, administration, faculty and staff, admitted students, prospective students, alumni, and the general community), and ongoing concern remains that all changes must take into account various sectors of the school (admissions, recruitment, marketing, academic, student affairs) while working in harmony to improve traffic and user-experience. 

Solution: SACI’s website was designed to effectively organize and present extensive information about the programs, student life, events, and more to demonstrate SACI’s unique value as a school and provide resources for prospective and admitted students, parents, faculty, alumni, and the general public. Maintaining the user-friendly quality of the site while adapting to these changes has required careful, continuous updates to Information Architecture, UX Writing, content, page layouts, and occasional HTML5/CSS based on feedback from users and stakeholders along with careful adherence to predetermined UI and brand guidelines.

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My Roles & Responsibilities

Website, Alumni & Media Coordinator for SACI

Ongoing Website Coordinator and Content Writer, Communications Team Lead - Client Team

  • One of two leads for SACI Communications Team in content migration and setup

  • Involved in initial sitemapping and user flows and led subsequent iterations

  • Handled majority of initial and all ongoing content creation and management (copywriting, images, and videos)

  • Iterations to information architecture, UX writing, and HTML5/CSS

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Deliverables,
Tools Used &
Timeline / Scope

Deliverables: Website Content (copy, images, and videos) for responsive website with About, Academics Admissions, Student Life, Alumni, SACI Blog primary sections - Landing Pages for Admissions Initiatives

Tools Used: Drupal, Copywriting, Information Architecture, Sitemapping, Mockups, HTML5/CSS updates to UI, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Photography, Video Editing, User Research via Ongoing Analysis of User and Stakeholder Feedback

Timeline and Scope: Ongoing over 5 years - Create and Update Content and Revise Information Architecture, navigation, and UX Writing based on performance and user and stakeholder feedback. Design and iterate landing pages.
 

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Migration & Setup

One of two leads for SACI Communications Team in content migration and setup

 

Working remotely from Florence, Italy, with Stolze Design from Boston, the SACI Communications Team worked on establishing the overall goals of the site redesign. Namely the new website was to simplify and streamline the extensive information presented, update UI, create a responsive experience across desktop, mobile, and iPad, make learning about the school and its programs easy and enticing, and improve and simplify the application and admissions process. In addition, a goal was to offer a bold, immediate look at the location in the city of Florence, while providing a striking and credible look and feel such as other top art and design schools in the United States.

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Sitemap & User Flows

Involved in initial sitemapping and user flows and led subsequent iterations

Our team worked to establish the sitemap and user flow based on years of behaviors and website needs of prospective and admitted students, parents, study abroad advisors and departments from partner schools in the U.S, the step-by-step process of researching and applying to the school, student academic needs, student affairs, information needed for each step. We also took into account needs and user flows for alumni, faculty and staff, the general public, and Board members. 

My own experience in SACI’s administration, as a SACI alum, and as a once prospective and then current student provided integral insight into the paths taken by website users in each group, as well as the feedback received from others in similar positions about their frustrations and goals.

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Content Creation
& Management

At the site’s launch, another Communication Team Lead and I handled the majority of initial content creation and management. For the past 5 years, I have been responsible for creating, managing, and deploying copy, images, and videos to Drupal for nearly all of the site’s existing and new pages, working with a team of outside developers to establish and update the site's page layouts, modules, and features. Throughout, our team constantly identified feedback for iterations to further streamline the experience for different users.

 

Included Content:

  • Copy for primary, secondary, and tertiary pages

  • Updating and formatting entries on the Admissions Recruitment Calendar

  • Blog Posts (news articles) for social media outreach and to general further site traffic

  • Images for hero images, slide shows, thumbnails, and carousels

  • Promotional videos throughout the site

  • Course Information - the addition of new course syllabi and descriptions each semester

  • New sidebar highlights, related links, captions, as well as designing and writing landing pages for Admissions 

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Information Architecture &
UX Writing

Since the initial launch, I continuously update and iterate on the UX Writing and Information Architecture for ongoing website iterations throughout the site. In addition to overall copy and content, I reevaluate and change the wording for links, buttons, headings, and subheadings in response to user and stakeholder feedback, particularly call-to-action items such as donation and application-related buttons.

 

With the frequent addition of new information or changes to pages and sections, I often utilize accordions and lists to organize information that would otherwise be too much to include together in one place, increase the ease with which users can find the detailed information they are looking for, and cut back on distractions. The accordions also allow us to target information that aids with Search Engine Optimization. These components are very helpful in conveying further information on dates, fees, application materials, and artwork details.

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Landing Page Design and Iterations

Working with the Admissions team to identify elements needed for information collection, I designed landing page mockups to help target prospective students in the respective program fields. These landing pages allowed users to choose to input their contact information and immediately receive additional details on the program of interest.

My role was to establish the page and form layout and providing the copy, images, and videos needed for the live version before handing the mockups off to our in-house developer. Throughout the process, I collaborated with the Admissions office to iterate on the content based on their data from past initiatives, forms, and sign-up methods - aiming for a straightforward, enticing, and informative page that seamlessly aligned with the overall site. 

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Front-End Coding Iterations & Additions

Since the site’s redesign, specific website components have often needed iterations and updates to match the needs of users and stakeholders and allow for new types of content and displays. To create these desired experiences, whether for design or content reasons, my work has included making changes to HTML5. In particular, this has involved adding new buttons or making changes to button settings, troubleshooting problems in page layout by referring to the source code and identifying items to be removed or fixed in order to achieve the desired look.

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Conclusion + Future Opportunities

SACI's initial website redesign provided the school with a responsive, user-friendly alternative to the school's earlier platform. Following this switch, the school continued to evolve in ways that required iterations for the website's page structures, content, and user flows. Through subsequent and ongoing additions and iterations, evolving Information Architecture, UX Writing, and HTML5/CSS changes served to address and resolve the pain points and goals of users and stakeholders (prospective and current students, alumni, staff, faculty, administration, and the board) understood through continuous feedback. These changes helped increase satisfaction with the site contents, diverse user flow pathways, and requested elements while helping increase traffic and interest in the school.

In the future, I’d like to apply additional UX research and design processes to inform the decisions regarding site changes. In particular, structured user testing and usability testing, as well as A/B and preference tests for images and colors, could greatly benefit the site’s effectiveness and help identify and remaining pain points and unmet goals.

I would also like to apply animations and transitions to further enhance the appeal of the site and apply loading animations where needed.