Space Studies Institute (SSI)

Redesigning a website with content that is so “intelligent” was a very unique challenge. Even with research and interviews, if you ultimately don’t understand the content, its hard to help organize it.

Deep dives into their overall mission as a non-profit organization in addition to studying materials that helped shape how they operate were the only ways for me to completely understand how to help redesign their site, reorganize their content, and help ensure people are quickly able to find what they are looking for without feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of the actual copy.

Research. Design. Test. Rinse/Repeat.

In addition to studying the materials they live and breathe by, to help me understand how they think, one of my first tasks was to help scan their physical library and pull the metadata from the books (ISBN, Author, Contributors, Price) and input into a SQL database with a GUI front-end uniquely developed for this project.

Once the metadata was entered, the data was used to help determine the overall value of their library, which was then used to help insure all of the books (x number of books with x value = total library value).

Once completed, we returned focus on the website redesign.

Other Considerations

Painpoints and internal conditions that needed to be examined:

  • How old is the average user of the website? What font size should we use, and which font weight would be easiest to read for an audience with an average age of 40+?
  • What is the navigation structure that is easiest to follow for someone who knows nothing about space?
  • If we are driving donations to this site (Non-profit), why would I , a new user, donate towards this cause? What happens with my donation? Is that clear on the home page? What prominence does this donation button take and how many ways can they donate? If I don’t want to donate a certain amount, is there a way for me to donate what I can?
  • Is this an international audience? If so, is this page compliant with all of the GDPR requirements based on region?
  • What concepts have been considered in the past, and what did stakeholders say?

Solutions

After careful consideration, the solution became pretty clear. Provide a system that allows the stakeholders to make edits in the future and self develop using HTML/CSS with the Divi theme in WordPress. I chose Divi because it has the most amount of documentation and it’s a theme that’s actively developed/updated with a great support team.

Its easy to choose themes that have great demos, but if it’s not actively updated and the support is sub-par, that will prove to be more of a headache than time saver at the end of the day.

Our team was lucky to have an awesome experienced developer and I wanted to leverage that as much as possible without putting too much on his plate – allowing me to do MOST of the heavy lifting myself.