Skip to main content

Custom Web Development (CWD) Team on User Experience (UX)

This case study focuses on four of CWD’s clients: Human Resources; Infrastructure, Properties, and Planning (IPP); the College of Veterinary Medicine; and the School of Hotel Administration.

This article applies to: Case Studies, IT Reports and Presentations


The Need

When it comes to building a new website, many different pieces need to be considered, from the design and the content, to the information architecture and the end user experience. This case study includes four clients who hired the Custom Web Development team in CIT for user experience research, recommendations on design, and project management of their website redesign planning.

The Challenge

All four clients agree that one of the biggest challenges in developing a new website is understanding how their users navigate the site, and balancing that with the needs of the site owners to market their offerings and share the content they feel is important.

Each college or unit in this case study has many different audience types that include a mixture of students, faculty, staff, researchers, potential students, visitors, and more. User testing on each of these sites revealed a number of issues that users had in trying to find the information they needed the most. One of the clients, for example, had a staff member who would cover her workstation with sticky notes so she could remember how to get to a specific part of their site. User testing helped internal stakeholders understand that the site was built from a departmental point of view, instead of an end-user point of view, which resulted in a sub-optimal experience for their users.

The Solution

The Custom Web Development team performed user interviews with real users of each of these sites, and then created personas. Personas are snapshots of real users’ demographics, goals, wants, needs, and pain points of the current website. The CWD team makes recommendations based on the personas. These recommendations are then presented to internal stakeholders to finalize and gain consensus on the new website’s navigation, content structure, and main landing page content, while keeping in mind the marketing objectives of the college or unit. Once the user experience research and planning phase is over, the website is then ready to enter content writing, design, and development phases with a blueprint for how to efficiently move forward.

The Clients

Debra Howell, IT Director
Infrastructure, Properties, and Planning

Al Gonzalez, Director of Marketing
School of Hotel Administration

Shari Kearl, IT Director
College of Veterinary Medicine   

Betsy Shrier, Associate Vice President 
Human Resources, Systems & Administration

The Collaborative Relationship

“We use the data from the UX testing for everything we’re doing moving forward.” – Debra Howell

“CWD really understood our vision and priorities, and helped us get everyone on the same page.” – Shari Kearl

“Our brand as a university must be user-friendly. Not only did CWD work up accurate and relevant user personas, they offered excellent project management throughout the whole process as well.” – Al Gonzalez

“CWD’s personas and user testing helped us gain the confidence of our stakeholders with data-driven changes to our website, and made working with our vendors much more efficient.” – Betsy Shrier

To see how CWD can help with your next web project, visit:
http://www.it.cornell.edu/about/atsus/iws

About this Article

Last updated: 

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 9:37pm

Was this page helpful?

Your feedback helps improve the site.

Comments?