thumbnail image of website kaitlyn nguyen
Landing of the MSU College of Arts & Letters website on a laptop screen

Building College-wide Functionality

MSU Content Studio

Role

Duration

Tools

UX Design Intern

May 2020 - Current

WordPress, Concrete5, Microsoft Suite, Trello

Overview

The Challenge

Using accessible and inclusive design practices to promote a community brand in department-specific websites within the University.

The Solution

Creation of files which diagrams navigation of migrated sites to create a more user-based experience. Knowledge on auditing categorized news articles to research what users were most compelled to on the college websites.


Process

Below I have outlined the steps and tasks I have worked on throughout this position!

A graph showing three steps of a design process: user research, design, and evaluation

User Research

Architecture & Navigation Planning, Competitive Analysis

The Content Studio supports a variety of projects contributing to web properties in Michigan State University’s College of Arts & Letters’ units and departments. Furthermore, when I started my internship at the Content Studio, the most pressing—and biggest—project was the migration of all the College of Arts & Letters department sites from the content manager Concrete5 to WordPress.

Architecture & Navigation Planning

As our team migrated websites, we had to create and update architecture and navigation for existing and new web properties. Below is a navigation diagram I made for one of the university site’s navigation!

A graph showing a planned navigation diagram for a website's migration

Considerations

  • Is the current navigation confusing?
  • How can we ensure navigation between web spaces are cohesive?
  • Where is most of the user traffic going? How can we showcase those areas in the navigation?

Competitive Analysis

Looking to update page layouts and features of web properties, I worked to analyze how other universities implemented and showcased similar features. Below I have an example examining how universities presented content for undergraduate education. Specifically, I noted commonalities and hierarchies of information.

First page of a document comparing different university's undergradute education presentations
Second page of a document comparing different university's undergradute education presentations

Design

Content Migration, Content Sync & Updates

Moving our content management from Concrete5 to WordPress, our team considered how design and user experience could be enhanced on web properties representing the university.

Content Migration

Learning how to navigate WordPress and Concrete5 was one of the biggest challenges. With content migration, I was able to analyze current user flow and further understand the functions and features of both systems.

Photo of the old design of MSU excel network
Photo of the new design of MSU excel network

Evaluation

Usability Testing, Analytics, Training Guides

After redesigning and migration, I was asked to perform usability tests for web properties—on desktop and mobile. Additionally, I compiled analytics for department sites to evaluate user flow and assisted in WordPress training guides for faculty members.

Analytics

I created several department-specific Excel sheets with analytics detailing user flow. With this information, our team presented to departments with the intention of showcasing the content that users were compelled to navigate to on their websites.

Screenshot of an Excel sheet with user analytics

Training Guides

After building out department sites, ownership goes to the department. From here, our team works to support the growth of the web space by assisting with content changes and questions. Because of the ownership change, our team has curated training guides and videos to help the new ownership get familiarized with WordPress. Additionally, there are support team meetings to address any questions.

Moving Forward

Right now, I am still working in this position; improving usability and accessibility on the college department-specific web spaces, auditing website analytics to analyze news to research user behavior and user flow, and providing support to property administrators.

Lessons Learned

  • At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this internship shifted into a remote job. Working from home, I had to adapt a new lifestyle to find a work/life balance.
  • Management of content has to be customized for ease-of-use from WordPress’ front and back end to aid management that may not be as tech-friendly. This creates streamlined access to content changes and updates.