How we're reorganising our website

We're tackling some of the problems with the way our website is organised to make it easier for you to find things from Brownie activities to fundraising challenges

Tory Dunn, Head of User Experience, Zone
2 Mar 2016

Tory, from our digital agency Zone, explains how we're making this happen

So Tory, you've been working on what you call our 'sitemap'. Can you start by explaining what that is?

Essentially, the sitemap is how we're going to organise content on the new Girlguiding website, so that people can find what they're looking for.

It's a bit like if you walked into a library and all the books were just piled on the floor in no particular order. You wouldn't know where to begin, you might even give up and walk away. Whereas when a library is carefully organised with good labels, you can find the exact book, or type of books, you want. You might even come across something exciting you didn't expect. That's how a website should be too.

At the moment, the Girlguiding website is a bit like that messy library. If you're used to it, you've probably found workarounds and ways of getting to the information you need – but we want to make it easier.

You've asked Girlguiding members, staff and potential parents to do two online exercises in the last month. Can you explain how they helped you design our sitemap?

We started with a card sort. This is needed when a site has tonnes and tonnes of content, or when there is specialist information – Girlguiding's website has both.

A card sort is a bit like virtually dumping all of the content on a table and asking people to look at how it should be organised. It doesn't give you an exact answer for how the sitemap should be, but it gives us a really good steer on how people think content should be grouped.

The results of the card sort showed that most people thought the site should have several groups - content that is about what we're up to, information for volunteers to make guiding happen, the stuff about Girlguiding as an organisation, how people can get involved and content for parents. We could then use these fairly consistent groupings to put together a proposal for the sitemap.

Then you asked a smaller group of people to do a treejack exercise – what's that?

The treejack is how we tested our proposed sitemap. We want to test early to make sure that what we are suggesting works, instead of building a website then discovering that there are problems we could have avoided.

It's quite a rigorous test because it doesn't give any content – imagine a website menu with no pages, just the titles. We gave people tasks to find information and they clicked through our sitemap to try to find where they thought that content would be.

We found some information was easy to find through our proposed sitemap – like activities. Other things weren't so good. For example, it wasn't very easy for people to find information for parents because we had moved it down a level – taking it off the main menu. So now we're putting it back on the main menu.

We agree that properly testing the sitemap is a great idea. We can't wait to see it come together. What do you think is the biggest challenge when designing a sitemap like this?

I think it's getting your head around all the content. For the Girlguiding website this is a particular challenge because we're pulling together content from several different websites into one place.

That means that some information that was previously aimed primarily at volunteers - like the detail of activities or the training that volunteers get - will now be on the site for public audiences. We think this will inspire more people to join Girlguiding but it's a challenge to organise everything!

We're putting so much effort into the sitemap because it's an important part of creating a good 'user experience' – that is, how people move around our website and get the information they need.

Lots of people now work in user experience, like you Tory – would you recommend it as a career to our young members?

I would absolutely recommend working in user experience. When I started out - at Microsoft in 1993 working on CD-ROMs! - I did not expect to be entering one of the biggest fields, next to coding. Now, practically everything has some digital aspect to it – being part of developing a digital viewpoint is a great skill to have. I also really like finding out what people do in other fields – I get to learn and then create.

More on our new website

Get to know our new website and how we developed it with the help of girls, volunteers and supporters.