INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

Restructuring the New York City Parks site architecture to optimize user journey

How can we build a positive site experience with New York City locals and visitors?

What is NYC Parks' mission?

Business Problem

We identified several key issues with the existing site structure through several rounds of user testing.

Who

is our user?

are we solving for the user?

is this an existing problem?

Tree Study Test Results

Key Takeaways

Need to streamline user flow

Simpler navigation bar

Nav bar is not easily accessible 

How do we track how users organize information?

By testing a pool of participants representative of our persona through the card sorting method, we effectively tested for the existing site navigation as well as for our proposed solution.

We learned that

  • It's difficult to find content through navigation or search.

  •  The wording is too vague and confusing.

  • Terms need to be easily understandable in respect to the persona  (i.e. “wood debris removal” is an action-specific task that most users of the site might not need to know)

  •  The navigation menu is not noticeable.

  • The built-in error correction function should work when the error occurs.

Research >> Design​

I reorganized the existing site map to just 7 categories — studies show that the human brain retains information best when it’s limited to 5 to 7 items. This would increase learnability and the chances that someone revisits the NYC Parks website.

By mapping out user flow, we were able to pinpoint areas for definitive improvement in our proposed redesign. 

Reasoning

Navigation content was cut down to a large degree because conciseness means more authority will flow to each interior page - establishing hierarchy which the current site lacks. By assigning the bar to the top as a sticky bar, the user will have more consistency when clicking different pages and can refer to it when needed. The category number is conducive for learnability and contains keywords users might be looking for. The search bar has been minimized and left at the top next to the language option.

Outcomes

Research shows that the marked improvement in user understanding of the site structure is indicative of the need for an updated information hierarchy of the NYC Parks website.

While the existing site is functional, it’s not inclusive of all types of visitors which is the mission of the NYC Parks to cater to!

 

In order to reflect this mission, the information needs to be curated in such a way that all users can comfortably navigate through this space with confidence.

Next Steps

Click tracking software could be used to compare which pages are clicked the most and compare this data to the proposed redesign. Pages can then be consolidated or removed based on this with supported research. The rest of the website would be redesigned with the navigation bar considered, as locations and places of interest (i.e. restrooms, dining, etc) would be under each of the park’s standalone pages.

Additionally, the mobile responsive version or an app would be ideal, with curated content specific to the needs of the user on the go. With this version, location settings is a priority feature so that parks can be located based off of proximity as opposed to list version.