O.R.C.A.

UX Research

Information Architecture & Website Analysis
June — August 2019

Problem & Opportunity

The Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance (O.R.C.A.) 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

The website for O.R.C.A. had issues with its information architecture. While it appeared modern and minimal, the content within the site was often scattered and was difficult to keep track of. Finding and retaining specific information was a challenge for our research team. Considering the important mission of this nonprofit, we wanted to include other users to see how big the information architecture problem was and what we could do to fix it.

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. 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

1. Content Evaluation

Information presented at orcarelief.org was 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

2. Card Sort #1

Goal

To see how users would try to organize the current site content

We used Optimal Workshop to conduct the card sort. 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

3. Card Sort #2

Goal

To see how users would try to organize the updated categories

We used Optimal Workshop to conduct the card sort. Findings 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

4. IA Test #1

Goal

We used Optimal Workshop to conduct a tree test to evaluate the ease of completing specific tasks.

Tasks & Results

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?

Task 1, seen below, had an 88% success rate.

 task 1 results

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?

Task 2, seen below, had a 71% success rate.

 task 2 results

3. 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?

Task 3, seen below, had a 41% success rate.

 task 3 results

4. 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?

Task 4, seen below, had a 12% success rate.

secondary task 2 results

5. 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?

Task 5, seen below, had a 59% success rate.

secondary task 3 results

Conclusions

5. Updated Site Map

The site map was updated to address issues found in the previous tree test.

updated sitemap

6. IA Test #2

Goal

We used Optimal Workshop to conduct another tree test with our updated site map to evaluate the ease of completing some of the same tasks.

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 help the organization with a monetary gift?

Task 1, seen below, had an 77% success rate.

task 1 results

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?

Task 2, seen below, had a 77% success rate.

task 2 results

3. 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?

Task 3, seen below, had a 31% success rate.

task 3 results

4. 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?

Task 4, seen below, had a 54% success rate.

task 4 results

Conclusions

7. Wireframes & First-Click Test

With Figma, wireframes were created for a first-click usability test to evaluate our updated sitemap with users. Results from the previous tree test were considered and new tasks were generated for the first-click test.

home wireframe
menu open wireframe
support 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.

Retrospection

• 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 site information too much, possibly preventing a more effective solution in the long run.

• 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 and proved difficult to categorize throughout the research process. Perhaps our users might have given us some additional things to consider by creating new categories.

• Ultimately, while we improved some categories of information, more work would need to be done to improve the success rates for completing the various tasks that visitors of O.R.C.A. would need to accomplish.