ACRRM Search Experience UX Case Study

Enhancing the Website Search Experience

A User Experience Research and Design project that aimed to redesign and improve the Website Search features and enable visitors to more easily find information. The research highlighted various pain points we used to focus the Design Process, leading us to create a new Search Experience that focused on offering greater relevancy to the search results.

Company Profile

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is a medical college that provides leadership, training and professional networking for doctors in rural and remote communities across Australia.

As a part of the internal website team, my responsibilities included managing the website and ensuring good customer experience for various website visitors, primarily medical professionals who use the website for information and resources.

Design Problem

During the launch of the new ACRRM website, the website search underwent a UX review to recommend a redesign that would provide greater value to the wide variety of website visitors. This identified a range of issues.

The original search could not locate specific types of content, compromising a streamlined and direct search experience. It also combined results from the website CMS, a CRM database and various external data sources, resulting in a disjointed and unreliable experience.

Due to the large variety of content on the ACRRM website, redesigning the search process required engaging stakeholders from every part of the organisation.

This set the stage for a UX investigation and complete redesign of a visitor’s search experience.

Design Problem

Resolving UX pain points identified with the website Search

A UX review conducted on the website Search identified several pain points with the current design:

  • Identified that the current website Search was not well-aligned to cater for user ‘search tasks’ or goals
  • The Search Result Cards did not provide visitors with useful information that would assist in connecting them to the right page or resource
  • The Search Result Page UI did not provide users with relevant information to support their user journey
  • The Filtering options made it difficult to refine Search results in a meaningful way
  • The UI was inconsistent with the rest of the website offering a poor experience

Design Solution

The new design provides website visitors an optimised and intuitive search experience to reach their search goals.

We grouped search results into 8 types and customised each with a unique Result Page, preview card and contextual filters. This gave each visitor streamlined search results tailored for their goal.

The search results were grouped into these search collections,:

  • Webinars
  • Courses
  • Events
  • Forms & Resources
  • Web Pages
  • News & Articles
  • Training Posts
  • Professional Development

The design improves the current website search by recognising the distinct data types and the focusing on identified common search goals to create a personalised and effective search experience.

Design Solution

Enriching the Search Experience with greater contextual information

New Collections centered around user search needs

Each Collection now supported a more contextual display of specialised information with a:

  • Unique Search Result Card – to display specific meta data relevant to each collection
  • Tailored Filter Attributes and Options – to assist in refining a search query and locate more relevant information faster
  • Specialised Search Result Pages – to provide users with more relevant information based on their search collection

These changes, helped to personalise the Search Experience around the needs of the website visitor and make the display of information more relevant.

Dedicated Mobile Optimised UI

The original search UI was poorly optimised for mobile. This new design solution offered a new UI that was fully mobile optimised.

Inspiration was taken from the Amazon and Ebay mobile apps to design a flyout menu style for the Search Filter.

When active, the entire screen should be taken up by the filter and allow a visitor to select their filter options and apply them to search.

The Result Cards and Result Pages were also optimised to ensure access to the information presented was clear across all device types.

Design Process

Stakeholder Engagement

To understand the full scope of content types and topics, we held many interviews and workshops with each individual team or division within ACRRM. By identifying the content each team managed or wanted to be discoverable, we could map the categories in a structure that aided discovery and search.

To understand the goals of website visitors using the search feature, we interviewed a pool of participants from the ACRRM community including rural doctors, members, fellows and staff. We analysed the responses, grouping the information with card sorting exercises to identify key insights.

These insights highlighted a failure in the original search to provide meaningful organisation or categories. We also identified several common search goals or “job’s to be done”:

  • looking for Educational Courses
  • exploring new Events
  • trying to find a Form or Document
  • looking for a Web Page.

Using these documented insights, we began a Design Sprint to seek a solution that would make these goals easier.

Design Phase

We followed the UX investigation with a Design Sprint, using methods including Rapid Prototyping; Low and Hi Fidelity mockups; and Interactive prototypes. This enabled us to quickly test different ideas and approaches, validating each against criteria formed from our engagement with the stakeholders.

We analysed popular search engines such as Google, Ebay and Amazon as well as similar industry websites such as universities such as QUT, UQ, Griffith and TAFE. This revealed design inspiration and key attributes of effective search experiences.

With these design insights, we created mockups and prototypes to test design solutions and approaches.

During the design process, we realised that each type of content (article, pdf, image, video, etc) required different templates. This would offer visitors a tailored experience and provide them with specific information that they needed. Our new goal to personalise the search experience guided each step of the Design process.

The search interface we designed allowed visitors to either search the website holistically or narrow their search into several predefined categories. These categories both improved visitors’ ease to locate their goal and clarified internally how to structure and organise the search data.

We tested and took on feedback to refine the new search experience, iteratively improving the UX and UI of the design until we were satisfied the design:

  • addressed the identified pain points
  • improved the overall search experience
  • offered a streamlined access to resources and information

Design Process

UX Research

Engaged stakeholders so that we could identify how they wanted to search for information.
  • Conducted interviews with the goal of discovering not only how website visitors wanted to search but also what they wanted to search for
  • Re-organised the different data sources into new collections based around the insights collected
  • Identified pain points caused by the current search that would form insights used in the following Design Phase

Design Phase

We used the UX insights to inform the design of a new solution for search
  • Conducted Competitor Analysis into other Search Engines to identify UX and UI trends and patterns
  • Iterated through various different design solutions for each search components used in the UI
  • Evaluated different designs to refine and improve usability and accessibility
  • Used ATOMIC Design to divide the UI and make reusable components and minimise development effort
  • Figma created an interactive prototype to test interactions and improve the design with user testing

Outcome

With an interactive prototype, created using Figma, we demonstrated our new approach and design to the primary stakeholders. This prototype along with our business case proved how the new design improved website visitors’ ability to locate desired information.

We also recommended reviewing and restructuring key areas of ACRRM’s database so that returned search results would be better organised and align with the new design’s goals.

In anticipation of this data restructure, we handed over the design and prototype documentation to the development team.

Outcome

Applying User Centric Design Principles for Search

The UX research revealed how stakeholders wanted to use the website to discover information.

It also identified key pain points that impacted how the data was being stored. In order to provide a better user experience, the data would need to be modified so that the end-user would have a more meaningful experience on the website.

This project allowed us to learn more about search patterns and behaviours, mapping micro-interactions that are often overlooked (such as behaviour around filtering or placement of the search input)

Goals

The project goal we set out to accomplish was to make the search a more personalised and meaningful experience for the end user.

The UX Research highlighted several key areas where we could introduce such personalisation.

Through the Design Phase, we developed various solutions that would address these pain points and focus more on the user experience.

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