Unifying content and improving usability for specialist Scottish tour operator
I worked with Mckinlay for over 10 years. During that time I developed three websites for them. In 2016 the directors wanted to consolidate their web presence into a unified platform.
This is the story of how I streamlined the user experience, improved the findability of content and updated the website ‘look and feel’.
Project plan developed in OmniPlan
I worked with the client to refine their initial brief and produce a detailed scope of work.
I then created a detailed project plan to provide all project members clear visibility of what tasks were included in the project and when feedback was required.
This allowed me to run the project in the most efficient way, reducing bottlenecks and avoid any potential downtime.
I adopted a lean, iterative process that was managed through the collaboration tool Trello.
Key tasks were taken from the project plan and input into Trello, colour-coded and assigned to members of the project team.
Trello was then used as a central point of communication and feedback on each task.
Organising key tasks using Trello
Using Google Sheets to capture the website architecture
Before I designed anything, I needed to understand what content and functionality already existed and how it could be migrated from different sources and housed ‘under one roof’.
I audited the current client websites and logged all pages (along with specific meta info) into a Google Sheet.
This provided me with a clear outline of the breadth and depth of content and formed the basis for my approach to creating the new site architecture.
I undertook an extensive interface audit to analyse the existing UI from a UX and visual design point of view.
I then developed a new content architecture (also in Google Sheets) that would accommodate existing content as well as new requirements.
Collecting and categorising existing UI elements as part of the UI audit
As the client had to migrate three site’s worth of content, I chose to develop the CMS prior to any further UX work. This gave the client a head-start on the content migration/creation process.
I was able to do this as I had clearly defined all functionality in the SOW and had an accurate content model from the UX content analysis.
The CMS was a heavily customised version of WordPress. In addition, the Advanced Custom Fields Pro plugin enabled me to develop a modular backend, based around reusable content modules rather than pages. Check out Brad Frost’s article on Atomic Design.
Once all back-end functional modules and HTML templates were complete, I was able to concentrate on how content would be structured within each template.
Although I rarely create wireframes these days, I decided the client would benefit from seeing something a little more tangible than just abstract HTML.
“We first worked with Ben nearly 15 years ago when he designed our new company's very first website. It is a testament to the quality of service and creativity he offers that he is still a valuable business partner.”