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Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray

Akendi Alumnus

Ontario Medical Association Responsive Web UX Redesign

OMA (Ontario Medical Association) works for medical professionals across Ontario representing their political, clinical and economic interests. Advocating for the wellbeing and success of its members is part of their core business. Akendi recently had the opportunity to re-design their website, here’s a walk through of our process:

1. Background/Brief

The project was initiated by OMA to refresh their website, improve member impressions of the Association and improve usability. Akendi worked with OMA to redesign the website’s information architecture, interaction design, and visual design. Use of the website among OMA members was lower than desired and members reported that a large portion of the content on the site was outdated and/or hard to find. Members felt that the website could provide more value and better support them in their work.

2. Process

Akendi’s research team started this project by conducting an inventory of the existing content to determine what content should be moved to the new site as well as undertaking card sorting research to guide the information structure for the new site.

Once the site’s architecture was complete, Akendi conducted a series of stakeholder workshops to identify key users, and to capture the usage scenarios that would be translated to wireframes. A brief survey was sent to OMA members to identify pain points and primary uses of the existing website. With the information gathered from the stakeholder workshops and survey, initial prototypes were designed and tested with real users.

Three visual concepts were created for OMA. These concepts explored different aspects of the Association but also different aspects of what is like to be a doctor. Areas explored in creating the visual concepts were: resources and tools for members, showcasing doctors’ stories and the pride in being a member and a doctor. The following three concepts were presented to OMA: “SHOWCASING OUR PRIDE” focusing on member stories, “A DOCTOR’S PASSION”, a grass roots approach focusing on why doctors become doctors, and “THERE’S MORE TO THE OMA” focusing on highlighting the wealth of information and resources the OMA offers its members. After presenting these options, the OMA outlined their favourite aspects of each concept, which were then captured in the final design. After the visual concept was established, adaptive templates and custom icons were created for desktop, tablet, and mobile breakpoints. This gave OMA a foundation from which to build their complete website.

3. Challenges

Accessibility – OMA is mandated to be accessible to all people. Akendi had to very closely consider all elements of the design and ensure that they met web accessibility standards WCAG 2.0 level AA.

Imagery – OMA members wanted to see actual OMA doctors in the visuals but a custom photo shoot was out of scope for the Akendi team. To resolve this issue, Akendi used images selectively and used overlays to unify the images and create texture, bringing visual interest to the website.

Information Architecture – Content on the website was organized by departments, but members were not aware of the organizational structure when looking for information. A challenge was having the client understand and accept an information architecture based on user needs, rather than organizational hierarchy.

Locked/Hidden Content – The client wanted to demonstrate the value of membership by showcasing all the resources available, but had to ensure that a good portion of the information was restricted only to members. The final information architecture was a balancing act between the public and private sides of the site. This was addressed by providing visibility and a sample to a portion of the content, but signing in as a member was the only way to gain full access.

4. Results

OMA has been able to update their brand and begin to change member perceptions of the Association. Redesigning the information architecture and interaction design has allowed OMA to make their site easier to navigate allowing users to move through it more efficiently to complete their tasks. The visual design of the site creates a welcoming and meaningful place for users to visit and explore.

5. Takeaways

Designer Takeaways

  • Nothing is impossible; there is always a way around roadblocks like imagery and accessibility. Work with the problem not against it.
  • Research is essential, not optional. Put in the time to understand real users before moving to design. Gaining a deeper understanding of what users need from the site, rather than working only from the opinions of internal stakeholders will allow designers to create beautiful user centric designs.
  • Push the client to elevate their user experience. Collaboration between designers and clients will improve the outcome of the project and might even land you more work in the future.

Client Takeaways

  • When creating a content heavy site with a lot of pages, a visual style guide and content guide is a good way to transfer knowledge and give guidelines on how to implement the design. Guides also help aid in making new pages and adding new content to the site.
  • When creating a content heavy site with a complex information architecture, clients should consider developing a strategy for enforcing content governance, otherwise the site may return to the state where information is difficult to locate.
Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray

Akendi Alumnus


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.