"Emails, Facebook, Whatsapp Group, The Hub...Where can I find the information?!!"
The Hub 1.0 was a basic wiki site with plain white background and a sitemap in all caps on the left. Students complained about how difficult it was to navigate through the website and stopped using it. Students were constantly asking for updated information on unofficial communication channel like Facebook and WhatsApp and it was simply very messy and disorganized - impeding the efficiency and creating frustration towards the organization.
Seeing the palpable frustration in the community the drastic contrast of quality between Minerva.kgi.edu and Student.minerva.kgi.edu(our intranet), I proposed to revamp the website multiple times over the semester and was finally given the approval and the budget to do so in the summer.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
The google analytic results showed that students mostly only used the search bar for information, and it made sense:
1) the content was not grouped in a mutually exclusive way;
2) the categories are not clear as what they entail;
3) the design was very bland and thus not inviting for students to explore.
GOALS AND NEEDS
The Hub should serve primarily as a centralized communication platform for students and staff. As a crucial channel that students interface with frequently, it is crucial that
1) the information on The Hub is optimized for navigation, readability, and scannability;
2) the design follows the principles of the Minerva Brand and aligns with other products;
3) the site is dynamic and can be easily updated by staff with time-sensitive information.
Time was the primary constraint that we were faced with. The implementation process took a while as the collaboration between different content providers and the design of the site was stagnant due to competing priorities over the summer. We ended up building the site with a rather flexible Wordpress theme that allows easy customizations. I finished building most of the pages with placeholder text during this month-long internship and handed it off with a thorough guide to content auditing and building pages to the next student intern.
The Hub 2.0 was live by the start of Fall 2016 semester, the first time that Minerva has two classes, one in Berlin and the other in San Francisco. This was what students needed, so they were very happy that finally there was a place containing all the important information, ranging from what their degree plans should look like, to where is the closest grocery store in the neighborhood they live in Berlin. Staff provided positive feedback on the ease of updating the pages as well.
One of the major learnings for me was that project management skills cannot be ignored by designers. It's highly important to set expectations with stakeholders and periodically check in with them and reiterate the expectations. It was rewarding for me to practice how to convey the value of thoughtful design that was not necessarily appreciated by everyone.