Bio-inspired education center
Creating a website prototype with natural-design thinking workshops. How to act strategically despite time and budget constraints.
The company’s website needs to be designed to better connect with its target markets, including building more user-friendly storytelling and establishing a coherent visual language.
We’ve worked our way through the ideation, brainstorming and prototyping applying our natural design thinking model workshops.
Brand & Strategy Kickoff
In a four-hour workshop, we collectively developed brand name aspects, target groups as well as corporate goals. The goal was not to have comprehensive conversations or to create the perfect solution, yet to make fast choices, achieve commitment as well as to be able to act purposely despite restricted time as well as spending plan.
Brand Aspects & Mission Statement
By conceptualizing as well as prioritizing brand aspects in different locations we designed the basis to assemble an objective statement– this took us nearly 30 minutes.
Culture How would our community describe us?
Target Groups How would we describe our target audience?
Voice How do we want to sound to others?
Feeling How do others feel after being in contact with us?
Impact What tangible impact do we have on others?
X-Factor How are we different from others?
In this instance, the main objective was to gather information for creating the future website design and also to allow unbiased conversations concerning it. Still, this activity can be utilized for so much more, for example, to define the “filter” advertising and marketing copy needs to go through (voice qualities) as well as what it should be about (x-factor).
Initial gathering of individual expectations and definition of daily goals.
Nautilus bio-inspired education center provides cultural education to socially challenged people. In a creative and inspiring environment, they feel free and self-determined, developing their potential and abilities.
Definition of Target Groups
In order to put oneself in someone’s shoes with the various kinds of users, we developed supposed proto-personas, which are based totally on experience and presumptions. These serve as a starting point to assess the demands and challenges of the user and also possible options that can be taken into consideration, later on, developing the information design.
By brainstorming as well as prioritizing ideas to the extent of effectiveness (“Exactly how can we make our inner process or the process within our service or products more efficient?“) as well as awareness (“What can we do to be seen?“), we quickly came up with a roadmap with the following steps, focusing not just on the website, but on the organization itself– I believe that a solid company has more probabilities to produce better products and services.
In hindsight, I feel this exercise wasn‘t exactly what the customer expected (probably an issue with my positioning) because I aimed towards improving the whole ecosystem instead of just creating the website itself (and probably didn’t communicate it well in the beginning).
Usually, I do this exercise also in terms of generating additional revenues, but since the organization is well-funded, we‘ve left it out to save time. I believe that in order to maximize our efforts and expose potential valuable hidden sources of income it would have been good to do it anyway.
Additionally, I’ve acknowledged that the ranking by numbers is kinda abstract. For the future I’d favor the effort impact mapping exercise, given that it is way extra substantial by assessing the suggestions by required effort and expected effect, categorizing them right into “Do now” (reduced effort, high effect), “Make it a project” (high effort, high effect), “Make it a job” (reduced effort, low effect) and also “Miss” (high effort, low effect).
Finding a Visual Style
After the first workshop, I’ve implemented the mission statement and the brand aspects to craft three different design directions aka visual prototypes to the client right before starting the second workshop.
vibrant, diverse, self-determined, creative
progressive, cultural, local, inclusive
impact, confident, open
To understand the landscape better, I’ve proceeded with a content audit listing all available information and features. Based on these findings, we jointly decided what could be inspiring, what to kick and how the material can be integrated right into a more intuitive information architecture.
Joint innovation of the sitemap, considering the specified proto-personas as well as the particular approach to their issues as well as inspirations along with the goals of the company.
To make sure that the design isn‘t based too much on what the local environment has to offer, and provide a fresh perspective, I will add one or two extra steps in the future:
1 – Rather than diving straight into the results of content auditing and building the prototype based on the outcome, it makes sense to challenge the group to list all of the content areas they would be interested in creating – without, of course, checking the other sites. If anything is missing, this can lead to the question of whether these contents really have a place in the new design.
2 – Develop more stakeholders (proto-personas, 4-6) and think about what they would require from the site before diving into the audit – and finally add what’s important to the organization, too.
Evaluation via Tree Tests
To make sure that the website’s framework was intuitive, I evaluated the sitemap on-site with prospective users through so-called tree-testing by administering appropriate tasks, such as “Where would you certainly click if you intended to sign up with a theatre team?” Based on the examination results, the sitemap has been implented as necessary.
Building the Site Structure
Collectively developing low-fidelity wireframes. The benefit was a straight buy-in of the approximate framework.
In hindsight, that was a bit much for the same workshop day, as the focus paled as a result of a lot of previous discussions. Nonetheless, the few we had completed were valuable foundations for the design phase, and after that, just very small adjustments were necessary. In the future I will try a different approach – inspired by the UX workshop format from verynice – in which everyone doodles each main page, followed by a benchmarking of the various approaches and finally the voting of a best-of version. I believe this could be a better way to go from quantity to quality.
Everything was finally put together!
Because of the smooth co-creation experience, after the workshops, hardly any changes were needed, neither in layout architecture nor in visual design. As a reward, the client was siding with me, observing how I do workshop facilitation and also giving me honest and also important responses– that was remarkable.
As key takeaway: Make sure to truly (I mean, really, really..) get what is expected from the team right as well as to clearly express the specific objective of each exercise– I thought I did so, yet I really felt a lack of comprehension here and there.
Since I don’t recognize all the technical details of developing a WordPress website, some principles were extremely difficult to put into practice, specifically way extra complex to be handled by the customer. Typically– and also as I have the ability to do so– I would go for keeping up the fast pace of the processes by creating a mockup website myself as well as being able to review little details without way too much effort.
However, if there was more time, I would split each of the workshops right into two much shorter days to keep up the focus. Furthermore, as opposed to two or three, I would develop at the very least four personas, also run the prioritization exercise for additional monetization, as well as test the sitemap as well as website framework better.