No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices

Unearthing Pivotal User Insights to Redesign for Impact

The Challenge

The No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices (CBP) team was concerned that issues with their site – both on the front- and back-end – were detracting from their ability to share their expertise and retain site users.

Our Approach

 Our team performed extensive user- and website maintenance-focused research to find the troublesome areas for both users and content creators of the CBP website.

The Results

We used data collected from our research to inform NKH of our short- and long-term improvement recommendations. In addition, we learned how to position the CBP site better to fulfill their needs.

Our Discovery Tool Box

No Kid Hungry is an organization committed to ending childhood hunger in the US. Part of how they fulfill their mission is to arm teachers, school administrators, policymakers, and advocates with resources, research, and best practices for implementing childhood hunger programs in schools. The repository for this critical information is their “Center for Best Practices” website. However, their team had identified several serious usability issues with the website and knew there was a possibility of other hidden problems they were unaware of. Determined to help the No Kid Hungry team boost their impact, we conducted a discovery project to define current issues, long-term goals, and a roadmap forward.

Starting with Stakeholders

Our work began with first meeting the CBP Senior Digital Project Manager to discuss his team’s frustrations, goals, and visions for the website. We also sent a survey to a broader stakeholder group to capture this same information. Then we brought the teams together to discuss the responses to build consensus and momentum around the future direction of the website.

Understanding the Landscape

We needed to take an inventory of the website’s existing content to understand how it was structured and interrelated. To do this, we performed a content audit, mapping out the site’s organization. This quickly revealed a great deal of duplicate content.

We also used Google Analytics data to uncover trends and insights into how users flowed through the site—noting which sections of the site were receiving traffic (and which weren’t) and from where the traffic originated. We learned that one area of the site had barely had any traffic. And users that did enter that section quickly backed out. This led to a hypothesis that the section—with a vague name like “playbook”—had a low information scent. Users weren’t sure what that section was about.

Conducting User Surveys & Interviews

Speaking directly with end users can reveal powerful anecdotal insights about an audience’s goals and frustrations. We interviewed three site users to determine their experience with the CBP website. In addition, we created a user survey for the CBP team to send out. We engineered these survey questions to determine what percent of visitors came from each audience type. Audience insight was illuminating for the CBP team; they didn’t previously have that data. These findings helped the CBP team see which content and functionality they felt were most important and how they thought the website could better support their individual goals.

A Labyrinthian Navigation Experience

Through our various exercises and data collection, we confirmed stakeholder suspicions that users were struggling to engage with the CBP website.

Both the stakeholder and user-focused exercises expressed issues with the site’s navigation issues. Left without a search function to locate content, users had to continuously dive down certain paths, come back out, and then try another path to find information. 

Secondly, content for specific topics had been duplicated multiple times in different sections of the website, causing an excessive number of pages. In addition, the site’s content architecture prohibited users from getting the “full picture” of any topic living on the site. Instead, they were presented with pieces of fragmented content they had to stitch together - relying on memory, which is cognitively taxing.

“It’s confusing that there's overlap in content between different sections/pages, so then it can be hard to remember where you found something.”

Stakeholder Survey Response

Lastly, our team discovered that users couldn’t easily find the CBP’s valuable resources. Not only were their resources in the form of a PDF, but they were only accessible through contentless “stub pages” - pages that don’t have any content on them and just contain the downloadable resource link to view the PDF. Forcing the user to download a PDF to see if a resource’s content is relevant adds an extra step to the user experience—which can be frustrating if the content ends up not being what they wanted.

“I don't love that in order to get a resource, you click on it, it takes you to a page to download, and then you need to click to open it up. Too many steps.”

User Survey Response

Presenting Our Proposed Approach

Based on our findings, we identified key improvements that would help the next iteration of the website better fulfill CBP’s mission.  

In response to the pain points we heard from users during our research process, we suggested combining content into larger, more meaningful chunks. This would create a single, canonical page for content from each topic area instead of fragmenting content across multiple sections—making it easier for all their audience groups to locate relevant information.

Pathways Graphic

We explained that turning the resources PDFs into web pages would give the site search function the fodder it needs to return relevant results. 

Finally, we expressed our desire to change the website’s visual appearance. During the early stages of the discovery phase, users pointed out that the current site has large images in multiple places that impede access to content while not providing additional benefits. Design should enhance, add to, and facilitate the usability and utility of the site.

What’s Next?

Our two teams worked together to determine how we wanted to proceed with the website redesign. Stay tuned for when the website redesign is complete!

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