O.R.C.A.

Information Architecture Analysis

Research Project
June — August 2019

Overview

The Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the recovery of the southern resident killer whales of the Pacific Northwest. This orca population has seen a drastic decline, mainly due to increased noise pollution which has caused dramatic interference in their ability to communicate and feed.

O.R.C.A. current site

When considering a website that needed help with information architecture, the O.R.C.A. website was selected by our UX team of three. While it appeared modern and minimal, the content within the site was often scattered and was difficult to keep track of. Considering the important mission of this nonprofit, we wanted to see if our concerns were shared by others.

Process

The content of the O.R.C.A. website was evaluated and improvements were tested using the following process. First, a content intentory was done on the current site's content and structure. Categories of information were then developed for card sorts in order to understand how users would perceive the site's content. Using Optimal Workshop, data from user associations helped us generate a revised sitemap which was analyzed using a tree testing technique. Finally, wireframes were designed from our new sitemap to conduct a first-click usability test to review our iterations.

project process

Content Evaluation

Information presented at orcarelief.org can be organized into four categories:

1. About O.R.C.A.

General information about the Orca Relief Citizen’s Alliance. The mission and history are detailed as well as O.R.C.A.’s donors and partners. The O.R.C.A. leadership team and board of advisors are introduced and methods of contact are provided.

2. Get Involved

A second content area revolves around getting involved with O.R.C.A. Signing petitions, reporting orca harassment in the wild, contacting legislators, supporting whale protection zones, upcoming events, whale-watching, and donation methods are communicated here.

3. Science and Regulation

Another focus of content relates to current research and legislation. Population information, scientific papers and studies, threats to orcas, federal whale-watch rules, and orca protection documents are included in this area.

4. News

The last primary content section is a blog feed featuring recent whale-related news reported by ORCA members.

Content Inventory Screenshot

content inventory

Personas

We created two personas to help guide some of our research methodology, particularly targeting two distinct types of users who visit the site.

Erika the Environmentalist

Erika is a 29-year-old living in Seattle. She is a passionate idealist that cares about the environment and spends her free time (and some additional income) volunteering with organizations that share her values. She's also an animal lover. Being from the Pacific Northwest has raised her awareness with whales and their regional significance.

Steve the Scientist

Steve is a 34-year-old PhD student at Oregon State University and is working on his thesis at their Marine Mammal Institute. As this process drags on, Steve is on the lookout for different nonprofits that might help him with his research, publish his findings and provide different sources for him to consider.

Card Sorting #1

General Population

Goal: To see how a broad audience would try to organize the current site content

We used Optimal Workshop to conduct both card sort tests digitally. Updates were made to the site organization and content labels based off our content inventory. A majority of the original terminology was still in use.

Categories

  1. 1. About
  2. 2. Get involved
  3. 3. Research
  4. 4. Protection zone
  5. 5. News
  6. 6. Events
  7. 7. Regulations
  8. 8. I don't know

Results

Popular Placement Matrix

card sort 2 popular placements matrix

Card Sorting #2

Environmentalists Persona

Goal: To see how a more specific audience set would try to organize the current site content

Learnings from the last test included using verbs as our category labels, cutting The Protection Zone and fine tuning some of our cards to make sure they did not have similar language to the categories.

Categories

  1. 1. Get involved
  2. 2. Explore the organization
  3. 3. Research
  4. 4. Review the regulations
  5. 5. Discover news and events
  6. 6. I don't know

Results

Popular Placement Matrix

card sort 2 popular placements matrix

IA Testing #1

General Population

Using Optimal Workshop, we conducted two tree tests to evaluate the ease of completing specific tasks. Primary tasks were designed for our environmentalist persona and our scientist persona. Secondary tasks were based on questions that came out of our card sorting tests

Primary Tasks

1. While scrolling through twitter, you see a trending topic labeled “Endangered orcas” and click on the link to see what is going on. After reading a few tweets, you are directed to the Orca Relief Citizen’s Alliance website where you learn more about the issues. You don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, so volunteering your time isn’t an option nor is contacting your local representatives. How would you show your support with a monetary gift?

2. You are working on a report about the decline in the killer whale population in the Pacific Northwest. You want to review other published pieces for inspiration and topic ideas. A colleague mentioned the Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance website as a resource. What section of the website would you go to as your begin your work?

Secondary Tasks

1. You were surprised when you found out that orcas are on the endangered species list and want to know more about the causes for their decline. Where would you go to find that information?

2. ;You are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest to see some friends and take in the scenery. Seeing a killer whale in its natural environment is at the top of your list, but you’ve read that boat tours catered towards tourists are harmful for orcas. How would you find information on seeing these animals in a safe and environmentally friendly way?

3. You want to help save the endangered orcas in the Pacific Northwest. Your friend suggested the Orca Relief Citizen’s alliance as a good starting point for your efforts. Using this navigation, how do you help the cause?

Results

Shore Watching Location Task Results

treejack 1 shore watching results

Next Steps

Updated Site Map

updated sitemap

IA Testing #2

General Population

Primary tasks were designed for our environmentalist persona and our scientist persona. Secondary tasks were based on questions that came out of our card sorting tests

Primary Tasks

1. While scrolling through twitter, you see a trending topic labeled “Endangered orcas” and click on the link to see what is going on. After reading a few tweets, you are directed to the Orca Relief Citizen’s Alliance website where you learn more about the issues. You don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, so volunteering your time isn’t an option nor is contacting your local representatives. How would you show your support with a monetary gift?

2. You are working on a report about the decline in the killer whale population in the Pacific Northwest. You want to review other published pieces for inspiration and topic ideas. A colleague mentioned the Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance website as a resource. What section of the website would you go to as your begin your work?

Secondary Tasks

1. You were surprised when you found out that orcas are on the endangered species list and want to know more about the causes for their decline. Where would you go to find that information?

2. You are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest to see some friends and take in the scenery. Seeing a killer whale in its natural environment is at the top of your list, but you’ve read that boat tours catered towards tourists are harmful for orcas. How would you find information on seeing these animals in a safe and environmentally friendly way?

Results

Shore Watching Location Task Results

treejack 2 shore watching results

Next Steps

Task Wireframes

With Figma, wireframes were created for a first-click usability test to evaluate our current sitemap with users.

home wireframe
menu open wireframe
support wireframe
donate wireframe
donate filled wireframe
donate complete wireframe

Task 1: Donate Money

You are interested in donating money to the Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance organization. Using this navigation menu, what section of the website would you look to find donation information?

task 1 wireframes

Results

While 70% of users found the correct menu item - Support, the About Us section and the new Orc Protection section also drew a few users.

Task 2: Find Research

You are interested in finding academic research on why killer whales are declining in population. Using this navigation menu, what section of the website would you look to find that information?

task 1 wireframes

Results

80% of users correctly chose the Orca Protection menu option to complete this task.

Task 3: Find Peer Reviewed Resources

You are working on a report about the impacts of noise pollution on killer whales. Using this interface, where would you navigate to find peer reviewed resources to help with your report?

task 1 wireframes

Results

80% of users correctly chose the Academic and Scientific Papers menu option to complete this task.

Conclusion

• Our group realized too late how important the content inventory was. There was a lot of changes made later in the project when we realized and accepted the freedom we had to make changes.

• We should have been more aggressive early on with our content inventory and how we used it to set up our first card sort. We deferred to the current set up too much and while we did get some great insights we also left a lot of learnings on the table.

• It would have been helpful to utilize a hybrid or open card sort in our first card sort test. There were a few cards like “Shore Watching Locations” and “Orca Threats” that remained a mystery for us. Perhaps our users might have given us some additional things to consider by creating new categories..

• Doing a usability test with our interactive wireframes may have been a better decision versus a first click test. We had a great Figma prototype and having people interact with it would have given us some fantastic learnings.

• We had two card sorts outside of our first test with the group. Having an extra week to run a fourth that focused in on our “Orca Supersection” would have given us more confidence as we finalized that part of our site map and prototype.