Cornell University Cooperative Extension's public-facing website needed an overhaul. After years of old and disorganized content (190+ pages), and no defined audience or direction, it was time for a refresh. The task was to create a modern, mobile-friendly website that showcases Extension programming and activity across New York State.
About Cooperative Extension
Cornell University Cooperative Extension is a partnership between federal, state and county governments, Cornell, and the citizens of New York State.
Who Is This Site For?
Defining the audience
The first thing that I needed to do was to help define the site audience. Who is this for? What purpose does it serve?
During the interview phase, we identified the following key audience members: Elected Officials, Media, Farmers, and Cornell/Extension employees.
I conducted a range of interviews with stakeholders, co‐workers, and friends. This allowed me to gauge what people were saying about our website. I also utilized reports from Google Analytics to understand users' motivations for using the website.
Next, I conducted a content audit where I cross-referenced over 190 pages with our analytics data. The results of the audit found that the current site was not getting any returning visitors other than our content editor. This helped our team determine that the best scenario was to start fresh.
The next step was to define our new taxonomies for the public site. Working with our content editor and communications team, we defined our key mission mandates and developed sections by program area.
I quickly mocked up some potential designs in Sketch and we hit the ground running.
Iterate and Test
With our initial prototypes, we found that the current base theme did not have reliable support. We ended up choosing a base theme with better responsive design tools, which enabled us to achieve our responsive goals faster.
After much testing, the new website was soft-launched. Stakeholders had the opportunity to try out the new website and provide feedback on any issues they encountered. The reception we received about the new site was overwhelmingly positive.
A Living Document
Based upon the work and documentation that my team and I established we now have a leaner, mobile-friendly website that can be enhanced with new functionality to continually improve the user experience.