Here at Forum One, we are no strangers to a tight deadline. But this summer, we tackled one of our biggest time crunches yet when the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) came to us for help with their website. The site was designed, built, content was loaded, but there was still a lot of work left to do—and only 10 days to complete it. Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to mention SAKI in a highly-publicized speech, and the site had to be ready for the traffic.
We pulled together a small team, cleared everything else from our plates, and got to work.
The problems were obvious: the layout was cluttered, the user experience confusing, the design dated, and the site was not fully responsive. After a debriefing with the client, our team gathered for a workshop and over the course of one day, created a new navigation and site structure, a redesigned brand, a new homepage layout, and layout recommendations site wide.
The original SAKI website packed a lot of content into a small, unresponsive frame. On the homepage, there was minimal content hierarchy and very little purposeful organization of SAKI information. Visual cues separating blocks of content were minimal. Globally, the website featured a cluttered global navigation system that complicated the seemingly-simple pathways of the website. At a basic level, SAKI users simply did not know where to look for relevant information on the Initiative.
According to SAKI’s goals, the website needed a simple information architecture and a refreshed representation of the content. Our team restructured the IA and eliminated a number of confusing top-level headings that appeared in the navigation. We cleaned up the user pathways by grouping relevant sections of information together and helped the SAKI team re-label a number of headers and sections. From a content strategy perspective, we guided the SAKI team in creating content that underscored the importance of RTI’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative in simple and straightforward language. In that same vein, one of the most important UX and content strategy inclusions appeared on the homepage in the form of “counts” that highlighted SAKI’s quantitative successes. From here, we were able to translate the UX solutions into a much more cohesive visual system that branded the entire website.
Improving the look and feel of the site was straightforward. In addition to the layout changes that made the site single column and immediately more modern, the dated branding needed a refresh. We started with the basics: we quickly found a versatile, free Google typeface that would instantly upgrade the design, and introduced two colors to their palette—a rich purple and a bright green—to complement the existing shades of teal used in the logo. Photography is a challenge on a site with such sensitive subject material, but more visuals were needed to “finish” the design, so we introduced textural photography on the site along with iconography to add texture to the page. Additionally, we sent the client a set of photography guidelines to use on an upcoming photoshoot, using one of the resulting image in the hero space on the homepage. Overall, the design changes that were made were basic, but the improvements were immediate and extremely impactful.
This project would not have been successful without the support from the client. The team at SAKI was extremely responsive, enthusiastic, and on board with our recommendations. The development team in particular was essential to the process; since the site was built in static HTML, any recommendations and changes that we suggested had to be hand coded. Not only were they up for the challenge, the feedback, code, and suggestions were turned around rapidly, leading to a smooth (but quick!) build.
We’re extremely proud of the work we did for SAKI, and that the team was able to come together so quickly to make such quick yet impactful recommendations to improve the user experience and understanding of SAKI’s importance. Clear communication, dedicated team members, and a client team game for anything were essential to our success. And this was all done within days… imagine what we can do with more time!