A new website for a European consulting business.
User research • Content strategy • Information architecture • Prototyping + front end development (HTML, CSS)
A reorganisation in IBM’s business consulting practice meant we needed to update our European websites. We also had some longstanding issue to address. Our existing sites were out of date, and didn’t support mobile visitors well. They weren't hooked into web analytics, so we couldn't get the data we needed to understand our customers better and support our sales teams. Plans were underway for a new global consulting site, but we needed to build something quickly and cheaply to tide us over till the new site went live.
We created a virtual studio to allow marketing colleagues from across Europe to contribute to the project. We used lean UX and design thinking approaches to design a responsive site that showcased our content in a way that would appeal to our target customers. By adopting the IBM.com responsive pattern library and building the site ourselves, we saved our slender budget for web analytics integration and production support.
Myself and three marketing colleagues, all part time
User research, content strategy, wireframing, prototyping, front end development, coaching the team in agile approaches, UX and design thinking
Our team members were based in London, Coventry and Zurich, and our first challenge was to create a suitable workspace. I set up an IBM Connections community for sharing documents and discussions. The gallery feature was particularly useful for pinning up sketches. Trello provided our Kanban board, and Skype enabled face to face meetings and desktop sharing.
We needed to design for the different C- suite roles that were the focus for our marketing but we had no access to these kinds of users. We drew on existing IBM customer research, business publications targeted at our audience groups, and information from our consultants, to understand user needs. We also talked to IBM colleagues with experience in those roles. We used empathy maps to synthesise our research and create a basis for an initial content strategy, that we could refine based on observed user behaviour once the new site was live. We also researched competitor websites, looking at how they were using design, tone and content to compete for our audience's attention.
Working from our empathy maps, we sifted all the existing IBM content we could lay our hands on to identify articles, papers, products and other material that might be of interest. We mapped this content to the key marketing initiatives for our business as well as user needs, checking for gaps and editing down over- represented areas.
As the content sets started to emerge, we began sketching page layouts, using the gallery feature in our Connections community to share and critique our ideas. I researched the IBM pattern library, matching components to the design elements in our sketches. I also created a couple of detailed mockups for the home page to test how the emerging design would work with realistic images and typography.
Once the team had agreed a design, I built an initial prototype in HTML and CSS that we could show to our colleagues in marketing and the wider business.
Feedback from this review put even more pressure on us to deliver the new site quickly. We decided the fastest way forward was to continue building the site ourselves, reserving our slender budget for more complex tasks, such as web analytics integration. I built the remaining pages and brought the code up to production standards, while the team wrote copy and hunted down suitable images. As a final step before production handover, I created wireframes in Omnigraffle to record our design intentions and the content rules for each page.
The site is now ive and the process of removing the old sites and relinking to this page is underway. The project roadmap we defined includes French and German translations, as well as regular content refreshes informed by web analytics and A/B testing.