User-centred design procedure

Procedure

Intent and objectives

This procedure establishes standards of quality and consistency in website design with an emphasis on user needs, task completion and productivity.

Scope

This procedure addresses the planning, designing, maintaining and evaluating of user-centred design. It applies to all staff members who plan projects for the RMIT web presence or contribute content, design components and coding to the RMIT web presence.

Exclusions

This procedure does not apply to:

  • courseware, including scholarly work, student work and learning and teaching materials
  • websites that have no relationship to RMIT (for example, personal or private sites)
  • websites set up on Google Apps for the purpose of internal project management and collaboration
  • web authoring tools not provided or supported by the university

Procedure steps and actions

Overview

User-centred design procedures work alongside other activities conducted by project teams and includes:

  • Methods for keeping the end-user needs in focus throughout planning, creating, maintaining and evaluating of websites.
  • Checkpoints for Digital and Customer Experience Strategy to review and provide feedback where appropriate.

Procedure (including Key Points)

Resposibility

Timeline

Planning for user-centred design

A. Review

i. User needs

  • Review the user requirements captured in your approved New Website Proposal.
  • Review existing user research materials, such as personas and the mental model.
  • If more target audience information is required, use the User Research Instruction to extend knowledge.

ii. Benchmarks and other useful data

  • Review competitor best practices using the Web Benchmarking Instruction.
  • If the project involves replacing an existing website, review recent evaluation materials, including those created with reference to the Usability Evaluation Instruction.

B. Plan

i. Create a copy of the User-Centred Design Checklist for use throughout the project. This will be used at review and feedback points (in conjunction with your Web Accessibility Checklist).

ii. Allocate time in the project, especially during the early design phases, for addressing usability issues. See the Usability Testing Instruction for recommended approaches.

iii. For Primary websites or those involving large-scale custom interface design, consider whether specialist usability advice will be required during the project. Digital and Customer Experience Strategy can provide:

  • Specialist advice relating to techniques and
  • Recommendations relating to external usability consultant services.

C. Communicate

i. Ensure that the project team, including the Business Owner, is aware of the user-centred design process and the benefits it will bring to website effectiveness.



Project manager



Ongoing

Creating user-centred design

Design elements vary from project to project so the focus on each element will depend on the type and scale of the particular project.

Project types and scales are defined below. Project managers should identify the applicable project type and scale from this list and then refer to the relevant section below for the corresponding procedure.


Project manager


Ongoing

Project types:

1. Main websites - primary online touch-points for RMIT. These include all public-facing and audience-specific websites, eg the RMIT Australia website and its related staff, student and alumni websites

2. Connected websites - an extension of the Main websites, which is where they usually launch from, eg: web applications and learning tool websites.

3. Vendor-supplied connected websites - typically off the shelf web applications that launch from a Main website.

4. Related websites - typically represent business enterprises within RMIT that have deliberately been separated from the Main website presence. These generally represent themselves as sub-brands of RMIT that have been formally endorsed by Engagement and follow the Brand (Visual Identity) Policy.

5. Associated websites - at the perimeter of the RMIT web presence, eg: experimental and collaboration websites.

6. Mobile websites and applications - extensions of the Main web presence, tailored for mobile user needs and hand-held devices.

Project scale

Identify the audience size as one of the following:

  • Primary – where there is high exposure to the majority of an audience group and/or is a large scale content host. ‘Main’ websites are automatically considered as ‘Primary’.
  • Secondary – where exposure and content is regarded as being of medium size and impact

Tertiary – where there is low exposure to an audience. A niche tool for a handful of users.


Project manager


Ongoing

Designing for main websites

1. Main websites are the primary online touch-points for RMIT and include all public-facing and audience-specific websites. These include the RMIT Australia website and its related staff, student and alumni websites.

1.1 Review points and feedback from Digital and Customer Experience Strategy must be included in the project lifecycle. This is achieved by maintaining and sharing a User-Centered Design Checklist for the project at the following review points. At each point Digital and Customer Experience Strategy will provide feedback within five working days (unless the complexity of the request requires this to be extended in consultation with the sender).

Main website review points:

  • Pre-design (Before IA, wireframing or visual design commences)
  • Pre-development (Before finalising the visual design)
  • Pre-launch

1.2 Pre-design review point: Submit checklist to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

1.3 Information architecture

1.3.1 Site structure and location must follow the IA Instruction.

1.3.1.1 New structures must be designed using the Information Architecture Procedure and may require user testing.

1.4 Pre-development review point: Submit checklist with proposed IA to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

1.5 Create content in accordance with identified user needs and with reference to the Web Content Policy.

1.6 Visual and interaction design must follow the GUI Design Instruction.1.6 Develop the website. Platformselection must be made in accordance with the New Websites Policy.

1.7 Pre-launch review point: Submit checklist with test server URL to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

1.8 Launch and proceed to section 7 below for maintaining user-centred design.


Project manager


Ongoing

2. Designing for connected websites

Connected websites are an extension of the Main websites. They are usually launched from a Main website. Connected websites include web applications and learning tool websites.

2.1. Review points and feedback from Digital and Customer Experience Strategy must be included in the project lifecycle. This is achieved by maintaining and sharing a User-Centered Design Checklist for the project at the following review points. At each point Digital and Customer Experience Strategy will provide feedback within five working days (unless the complexity of the request requires this to be extended in consultation with the sender).

2.1.1. Primary website review points:

    • Pre-design (Before IA, wireframing or visual design commences)
    • Pre-development (Before finalising the visual design)
    • Pre-launch

2.1.2. Secondary and tertiary website review points:

    • Pre-design

2.2.Pre-design review point: Submit checklist to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

2.3.Information architecture

2.3.1.Consider first whether the website could or should be accommodated directly within the Main website that it is connected to. If the website can be accommodated in the Main website, refer to section 1 above. If this is not feasible, continue to 2.2.2.

2.3.2.Identify the appropriate launch points within the Main website with reference to the IA Instruction and record these in your User-Centred Design Checklist.

2.3.3.Design your website IA with reference to the IA Procedure. Refer to the IA Instruction for page labeling conventions.

2.4. Create content in accordance with identified user needs and with reference to the Web Content Policy.

2.5. Concept and visual design

2.5.1.For Primary websites, prepare low fidelity concept designs and conduct usability testing in order to inform refinements. Refer to the Usability Testing Instruction.

2.5.2. Visual and interaction design must follow the GUI Design Instruction for the basic website shell, which includes branding elements and primary navigation systems. (Recommendation: Where practical, design guidance for the body area of the website should also be adopted.)

2.5.3. For Primary websites, conduct usability testing on high-fidelity prototypes to inform final design refinements.

2.6.Pre-development review point (Primary websites): Submit checklist to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy together with IA and design mockups for feedback.

2.7.Develop

2.7.1. Platform selection must be made in accordance with the New Websites Policy.

2.7.2. Coding must follow RMIT UI development standards (Development standards TBA).

2.7.3. Websites must be tested on supported browsers. Refer to the Usability Evaluation Instruction.

2.8. Pre-launch review point (Primary websites): Submit checklist with test server URL to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

2.9. Launch

2.9.1. Thoroughly test website in a test environment, involving all stakeholders (e.g. Content Owner, Web Manager, Web Editors).

2.9.2. Remediate any bugs.

2.9.3. Launch the website

2.9.4. Complete post-launch testing involving relevant stakeholders.

2.9.5. Remediate any bugs.

2.10. Proceed to section 7 below for maintaining user-centred design.


Project manager


Ongoing

3. Designing for vendor-supplied connected websites

Vendor-supplied connected websites are typically off the shelf web applications that are launched from a Main website.

3.1. Review points and feedback from Digital and Customer Experience Strategy must be included in the project lifecycle. This is achieved by maintaining and sharing a User-Centered Design Checklist for the project at the following review points. At each point Digital and Customer Experience Strategy will provide feedback within five working days (unless the complexity of the request requires this to be extended in consultation with the sender).

3.1.1. Primary website review points:

    • Pre-design (Before IA, wireframing or visual design commences)
    • Pre-development (Before finalising the visual design)
    • Pre-launch

3.1.2.Secondary and tertiary website review points:

    • Pre-design

3.2. Pre-design review point: Submit checklist to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

3.3. Page labelling should be consistent with the IA Instruction where practical and if system flexibility exists.

3.4. Create content in accordance with identified user needs and with reference to the Web Content Policy.

3.5. Visual and interaction design should follow the GUI Design Instruction for the basic website shell, which includes branding elements and primary navigation systems. Where practical, design guidance for the body area of the website should also be adopted.

3.6. Pre-development review point (Primary websites): Submit checklist to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy together with IA and design mockups for feedback.

3.7. Develop using the basic HTML shell for Connected websites (Request latest version from Digital and Customer Experience Strategy).

3.8. Pre-launch review point (Primary websites): Submit checklist with test server URL to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

3.9. Launch and proceed to section 7 below for maintaining user-centred design.


Project manager


Ongoing

4. Designing for related websites

Related websites typically represent business enterprises within RMIT that have deliberately been separated from the Main website presence. These generally represent themselves as sub-brands of RMIT that have been formally endorsed by Engagement and follow the Brand (Visual Identity) Policy.

4.1 Review points and feedback from Digital and Customer Experience Strategy must be included in the project lifecycle. This is achieved by maintaining and sharing a User-Centered Design Checklist for the project at the following review points. At each point Digital and Customer Experience Strategy will provide feedback within five working days (unless the complexity of the request requires this to be extended in consultation with the sender).

4.1.1 Website review points:

      • Pre-design (Before IA, wireframing or visual design commences)
      • Pre-development (Before finalising the visual design)
      • Pre-launch

4.2 Pre-design review point: Submit checklist to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.

4.3. S ite structure must be designed using the Information Architecture Procedure.

4.4 Create content in accordance with identified user needs and with reference to the Web Content Policy.

4.5 Concept and visual design

4.5.1 For Primary websites, prepare low fidelity concept designs and conduct usability testing in order to inform refinements. Refer to the Usability Testing Instruction.

4.5.2 Visual and interaction design must follow the GUI Design Instruction for the basic website shell, which includes branding elements and primary navigation systems.Where practical, design guidance for the body area of the website should also be adopted.

4.5.3 For Primary websites, conduct usability testing on high-fidelity prototypes to inform final design refinements. Refer to the Usability Testing Instruction.

4.6 Pre-development review point: Submit checklist to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy together with IA and design mockups for feedback.
4.7 Develop using the basic HTML shell for Related websites (Request latest version from Digital and Customer Experience Strategy)

4.7.1 Platform selection must be made in accordance with the New Websites Policy.

4.7.2 Coding must follow RMIT UI development standards (Development standards TBA).

4.7.3 Websites must be tested on supported browsers. Refer to the Usability Evaluation Instruction.

4.8 Pre-launch review point: Submit checklist with test server URL to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy for feedback.
4.9 Launch and proceed to section 7 below for maintaining user-centred design.


Project manager


Ongoing

5. Designing for associated websites

Associated websites are at the perimeter of the RMIT web presence and include experimental and publicly available collaboration websites.

5.1 Visual and interaction design must follow the GUI Design Instruction for the basic website shell, which includes branding elements and navigation pathways back to the main web presence.

5.2 Recommend following the IA Procedure to develop the site structure.

5.3 Recommend following the User-Centred Design Procedure to develop the user interface design.


Project manager


Ongoing

6. Designing for mobile websites and applications

Mobile websites and applications are an extension of the Main web presence, tailored for mobile user needs and hand-held devices.

6.1 Refer to the Creating Mobile Websites Procedure.

Maintaining user-centred design

From launch and then during the lifespan of a website, the Web Manager should continuously monitor the user experience and identify opportunities for enhancements.

The requirements are:

7. Assess the design for opportunities to make improvements

7.1. Gather and assess user feedback quarterly (minimum). Refer to the Usability Evaluation Instruction.

7.2 Assess any content changes and any corresponding impact on the design solution

7.3 Design website updates with reference to the User-Centred Design Procedure and IA Procedure.

8. Iterate the design to enhance the user experience

8.1 Apply incremental improvements that follow web standards

8.2 Keep the website updated as design standards evolve, referring to the latest GUI Design Instruction and IA Instruction.


Web manager


Ongoing

Evaluating user-centred design

When planning a significant upgrade or redesign of a website, the content owner should conduct a thorough evaluation of desired user experience versus actual user experience.

9. Assess:

9.1 Feedback from end-users – assess and prioritise. Refer to the Usability Evaluation Instruction.

9.2 User requirements, to ensure they are in keeping with current market expectations. Refer to User Research Instruction.

9.3 Existing content performance. Analyse to identify content priorities and any potential navigation issues. Refer to the Usability Evaluation Instruction.

9.4 Identify and note any new content needs or potential shifts in user requirements.


Web manager


Ongoing

10. Report on the findings for Content Owner review.

Web manager

Ongoing

11. Prepare for commencement of redesign project:

11.1 Primary websites – Prepare and submit a New Website Proposal to Digital and Customer Experience Strategy.

11.2 Secondary and tertiary websites – Submit findings to business and technical owners.


Web manager


Ongoing

[Next: Supporting documents and information]