Creating great UX on a tight timeline
With quickly approaching deadlines, we immediately began to chip away at what the main focus of the project would be. To accomplish this, we interviewed the content team for This Old House to gain a deeper understanding of the pain points and opportunities for improvement that existed with the website’s current state from their perspective.
An intensive three-day workshop at the The Old House offices in New York followed that included every stakeholder involved in the project: strategists, designers, engineers, executives, magazine and web editors, TV producers, and copywriters. With each stakeholder’s unique expertise and perspective, we were able to hone in on and prioritize the things that were most important to the website users and the business goals.
A unified how-to experience on all devices
Users mostly visit This Old House for how-to information, so creating a more unified approach to navigating and viewing this content was paramount. Video and written content existed on separate URLs, pagination issues required clicking through multiple pages to follow step-by-step processes, and many details were lost due to the site’s separated and limited mobile strategy. We improved this experience by:
- Providing video and written step-by-step info all in one place
- Building pages that include every step on a single page with easy ways to jump ahead
- Optimizing the design for smaller screens with a mobile-first approach for easy and quick access to information on all devices
Simple navigation organized the way users think
This Old House creates content that's incredibly useful for a wide variety of people of varying age and gender. Using quick user tests with actual magazine subscribers and site users, we simplified the site's navigation around "user modes" that reflected what's common among all users; what they're there to do. People come to the site looking to watch one of the shows, learn how to do something, or get inspiration and ideas for projects they're still thinking about and planning.
Galleries and steps that don't wear fingers out
To improve the mobile experience, we eliminated clicking and loading each photo in each gallery. We also simplified accessing “how-to” steps by eliminating multiple page reloads. And, we did this in a way that maintains compatibility with mobile ads and sponsorship opportunities for the continuation of critical business operations.
A site that celebrates the shows and their talent
This Old House is a historic brand, beloved for its Emmy-winning home improvement TV series, but the website wasn't celebrating that. We worked to feature the shows, the talent, and their great video content throughout the site, making it easier for fans and DIY'ers alike to find and watch the content they want.
Our website has been redesigned, re-engineered, and optimized for mobile users. Big props to our all-star team: Michael Gutkowski, Bill Mazza, Elizabeth Lilly, Vanessa Velez, Robert Hardin, design agency Lullabot, and Sourcetop's uber-developers, Michael Tardif and Abu Zakaria. Bravo!
Susan Wyland, Editor-in-Chief, This Old House Ventures, LLC