Humans encounter thousands of words every day. As a website owner, that means your site content is vying for your user’s attention alongside emails from their colleagues, the novel on their nightstand, and even the permission slip scrunched at the bottom of their kid’s backpack.

How do you cut through the clutter to create site content that people actually want to read?

While you may already be choosing topics that are the most interesting and relevant for your audience, the structure of your writing may not be optimized for how people read. By understanding your audience’s reading behaviors following best practices for readability and accessibility, you can make sure your content works with people’s natural tendencies – not against them – to create a more engaging digital experience. An added bonus: Google shares many of those same tendencies, so content that’s designed well for humans is also more likely to perform well for organic SEO.

As a digital platform partner to many clients with content-rich sites, Oomph often works with brands to redesign their content for digital success. Here’s a look at the basic principles we apply to any site design – and how you can use them to your advantage.

How People Read Online

When we dive into a book, we typically settle in for a long haul, ready to soak up each chapter one by one. But when we open up a website, it’s more like scanning a newspaper or the entire bookshelf – we’re looking for something specific to catch our eye. We quickly scan, looking for anything that jumps out at us. If we see something interesting, then we’ll slow down and start reading in more detail.

Think of it like an animal following an information “scent,” identifying a mixture of clues that are likely to lead to the content you’re looking for. Most people will decide which pages to visit based on how likely the page will have the answer they’re looking for and how long it’s going to take to get the answer.

Users need to be hooked within a few moments of looking at a website or they’ll move on. They need to be able to identify and understand key factors like:

  1. The point of the information and why they should keep reading
  2. Whether they can trust the information and the source
  3. The type of content provided and any action expected from them, like signing up for an event
  4. How visually engaging and readable the content is

The takeaway for brands? Writing with your readers’ needs in mind is a way to show them you care and want to help them solve their problem. It’s also the key to achieving your site goals.

Your site content does more than just convey information – it’s about building trust, establishing rapport, and creating a connection that goes beyond the page. Whether you’re trying to sell a product or promote a cause, crafting content around your audience’s needs, desires, and preferences is the most effective way to compel them to take action. Here are four ways to set your website content up for success.

1. Put your data to work.

If you’re looking to refresh your current site, data can help you make informed choices about everything from your content strategy to your layout and design. Use digital reporting tools to answer questions like:

Google Analytics is a go-to tool for understanding the basics of who is visiting your site and how they’re engaging with your content. You can track metrics like session duration, traffic sources, and top-performing pages, all of which can help you better understand what your audience is looking for and what you want to tell them. (If you haven’t made the switch to Google Analytics’ latest platform, GA4, jump-start the process with our 12-step migration guide.)

Additional tools like Screaming Frog and Hotjar can give you even deeper insights, helping you track content structure and real-time user interactions.

2. Create a simple and consistent content structure.

When it comes to site content, consistency is like the foundation of a house (minus the power tools and hard hats).

A well-structured site not only helps users navigate and understand your content more easily, but also enhances the visual appeal and flow of the site. Think of it like a dance floor – you want your users to be able to move smoothly from one section to the next, without any awkward missteps.

That means focusing on shorter sentences, bullet points, and clear subheadings, all backed up by engaging visuals that serve as resting points for the eye. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to declutter your content — users don’t want to wade through a sea of unnecessary words just to find the nuggets of gold.

Ask yourself: Does this content flow smoothly, is it easy to scan, and does it make my key messages stand out? If the answer is yes, then you’re on your way to successful content.

3. Make sure visuals and content play nicely together.

When it comes to enhancing your content with visuals, the key is to strike a balance between style and substance. Your design should complement your content, not compete or distract from it.

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, well-designed visuals are important for creating a sense of credibility with users. Think back to the concept of information scent: If your design looks sloppy or inconsistent, users are less likely to trust the information you’re presenting. So make sure you’re using design elements wisely, creating ample white space, and avoiding anything that makes your content feel like a sales pitch.

4. Focus on accessibility.

When it comes to site content, accessibility can’t be ignored. Content should be engaging and informative and also conform to the , Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Tools like SortSite can help identify these issues and guide you toward accessibility success.

There are a number of things all sites need to consider:

Designing Engaging Content Doesn’t Need To Be a Full-Time Job

If you already have a library of content, auditing the content that already exists can be daunting. And sometimes, you need a little help from your friends. That’s where third-party experts (like us!) come in.

During our website discovery process, we use strategies like content and analytics audits, UX heuristics, and user journey mapping to help position client sites for success. We’ll help you identify areas for improvement, highlight opportunities for growth, and guide you toward achieving content greatness.

Ready for a fresh perspective on your content? We’d love to talk about it.

Have you ever tried to buy tickets to a concert and experienced the frustration and eventual rage of waiting for pages to load, unresponsive pages, unclear next steps, timers counting down, or buttons not working to submit — and you probably still walked away with zero tickets? Yeah, you probably had some choice words, and your keyboard and mouse might have suffered your ire in the process.

As a website owner, you strive to create a seamless user experience for your audience. Ideally, one that doesn’t involve them preparing to star in their own version of the printer scene in Office Space. Despite your best efforts, there will be times when users get frustrated due to slow page loads, broken links, navigation loops, or any other technical issues. This frustration can lead to what the industry calls “rage clicks” and “thrashed cursors.” When your users are driven to these actions, your website’s reputation, engagement, and return visits can be damaged. Let’s dig in to discuss what rage clicks and thrashed cursors are and how to deal with frustrated users.

First of all, what are Rage Clicks?

Rage clicks are when a user repeatedly clicks on a button or link when it fails to respond immediately — the interface offers no feedback that their first click did something. This bad user experience doesn’t motivate them to return for more. These clicks are likely often accompanied by loud and audible sighs, groans, or even yelling. “Come on, just GO!” might ring a bell if you’ve ever been in this situation. Rage clicks are one of the most frustrating things a user can experience when using a website or app.

Rage Clicks are defined technically by establishing that:

  1. At least three clicks take place
  2. These three clicks happen within a two-second time frame
  3. All clicks occur within a 100px radius
rage-click

Similarly, what is a Thrashed Cursor?

A thrashed cursor is when a user moves the cursor back and forth over a page or element, indicating impatience or confusion. Various issues, including slow page load times, broken links, unresponsive buttons, and unclear navigation, can cause users to exhibit these digital behaviors. It can also indicate the user is about to leave the site if they cannot find that solution quickly.

Thrashed cursors are defined technically by establishing that:

  1. There is an area on the page where a user was moving their mouse erratically
  2. An established pattern of “thrashing” occurs around or on specific elements or pages
  3. Higher rate of user exits from the identified pages

Why do Rage Clicks and Thrashed Cursor happen?

Common reasons rage clicks and thrashed cursors happen are:

  1. Poor Design: Poor design is one of the most common reasons for rage clicks and thrashed cursors. If the website has a confusing layout or navigation structure, it can be frustrating for users to find what they’re looking for. Or, they may assume an element is clickable; when it’s not, it can be irksome. Underlined text is an excellent example, as users often associate underlines with links.
  2. Technical Issues: Technical issues such as slow loading times, broken links, or non-responsive buttons can cause rage clicks and thrashed cursors. Users expect the website to work correctly; when it doesn’t, they can become annoyed or frustrated. If they click a button, they expect the button to do something.
  3. Lack of Clarity: If the website’s content is unclear or poorly written, it can cause confusion and frustration for users. They may struggle to understand the information provided or find it challenging to complete the intended action. Content loops can be a good example of this. Content loops happen when users repeatedly go back and forth between pages or sections of a website, trying to find the information they need. Eventually, they’ll become frustrated, leading to this user leaving the website.
IT Crowd Monitor Throw

How do you resolve issues that lead to Rage Clicks and Thrashed Cursors?

Now that we know what rage clicks and thrashed cursors are and why they happen, how do you resolve it, you may be asking. Here are a few things an agency partner can help you with that can significantly reduce the risk of your users resorting to these behaviors.

Use Performance Measuring Tools

By employing performance measuring, you can analyze the data collected, gain valuable insights into how users interact with your platform, and identify areas for improvement. For example, if you notice a high number of rage clicks on a specific button or link, it may indicate that users are confused about its functionality or that it’s not working correctly. Similarly, if you see a high number of thrashed cursors on a particular page, it may suggest that users are struggling to navigate or find the information they need.

Tools that support Friction or Frustration measurement:

  1. Clarity (from Microsoft)
  2. ContentSquare
  3. Heap
  4. HotJar
  5. Mouseflow
  6. Quantum Metric

Conduct User Experience Exercises and Testing

Identifying the root causes of rage clicks and thrashed cursors can be done through a UX audit. An agency can examine your website design, functionality, and usability, identifying areas of improvement.

  1. User Journey Mapping: User journey mapping involves mapping the user’s journey through your website from a starting point to a goal, identifying pain points along the way, and determining where users may get stuck or frustrated.
  2. Usability Testing: Usability testing involves putting the website in front of real users and giving them tasks to complete. The tester then looks to identify issues, such as slow loading times, broken links, or confusing navigation.
  3. User Surveys: User surveys can be conducted in various ways, including online surveys, in-person interviews, and focus groups. These surveys can be designed to gather information about users’ perceptions of the website, interactions with the website, and satisfaction levels. Questions can be designed to identify areas of frustration, such as difficult-to-find information, slow page load times, or confusing navigation. It’s wise to keep surveys short, so work with your agency to select the questions to garner the best feedback.
  4. Heat Mapping: Heat mapping involves analyzing user behavior on your website, identifying where users are clicking, scrolling, and spending their time. This can identify areas of the website that are causing frustration and leading to rage clicks and thrashed cursors.

Focus on Website Speed Optimization

A digital agency can synthesize findings from UX research and performance-measuring tools and work to optimize your website for quicker page loads and buttons or links that respond immediately to user actions.

  1. Image Optimization: Optimizing images on your website will significantly improve page loading times. An agency can help you optimize server settings and compress images to reduce their size without sacrificing quality.
  2. Minification: Minification involves reducing the size of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files by removing unnecessary characters such as white space, comments, and line breaks. This can significantly improve page loading times.
  3. Caching: Caching involves storing frequently accessed website data on a user’s device, reducing the need for data retrieval and improving website speed.
  4. Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN is a network of servers distributed worldwide that store website data, improving website speed by reducing the distance between the user and the server.
  5. Server Optimization: Server optimization involves optimizing server settings and configurations, such as increasing server resources, using a faster server, and reducing request response time. Website owners frequently skip this step and don’t select the right hosting plan, which can cost more money through lost users and lower conversions.

Resolve Technical Issues

A web agency can help resolve any technical issues that may be causing frustration for your users. These issues may include broken links or buttons, 404 errors, slow page load times, and server errors. Technical issue resolution can involve various activities, including code optimization, server maintenance, and bug fixes that work to ensure that everything is working correctly and address any issues that arise promptly. The resolution of technical issues will improve website performance, reducing the likelihood of user frustration and rage clicks.

Next Steps

User frustration can negatively impact user satisfaction and business outcomes. Partnering with a digital agency can be a valuable investment to mitigate these issues. Through the use of tools, UX audits, user surveys, website speed optimization, and technical issue resolution, a digital agency can identify and address the root causes of user frustration, improving the overall user experience — leading to an increase in user engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty, which means improved conversion rates, higher customer retention, and ultimately, increased revenue for your business.

If your customers are hulking out, maybe it’s time to call us!


THE BRIEF

Connecting People and Planet

NEEF’s website is the gateway that connects its audiences to a vast array of learning experiences – but its existing platform was falling short. The organization needed more visually interesting resources and content, but it also knew its legacy Drupal site couldn’t keep up.

NEEF wanted to build a more powerful platform that could seamlessly:


THE APPROACH

Strategy is the foundation for effective digital experiences and the intuitive designs they require. Oomph first honed in on NEEF’s key goals, then implemented a plan to meet them: leveraging existing features that work, adding critical front- and back-end capabilities, and packaging it all in an engaging, user-centric new website.

Information architecture is at the core of user experience (UX). We focused on organizing NEEF’s information to make it more accessible and appealing to its core audiences: educators, conservationists, nonprofits, and partners. Our designers then transformed that strategy into strategic wireframes and dynamic designs, all of which we developed into a custom Drupal site.

The New NEEF: User-Centered Design

A Custom Site To Fuel Connection

NEEF needed a digital platform as unique as its organization, which is why Oomph ultimately delivered a suite of custom components designed to accommodate a variety of content needs.

Engaging and thoughtful design

NEEF’s new user experience is simple and streamlined. Visual cues aid in wayfinding (all Explore pages follow the same hero structure, for example), while imagery; microinteractions, such as hover effects; and a bold color palette draw the user in. The UX also emphasizes accessibility and inclusivity; the high contrast between the font colors and the background make the website more readable for people with visual impairments, while people with different skin tones can now see themselves represented in NEEF’s new library of 100 custom icons.

Topic-based browsing

From water conservation to climate change, visitors often come to the NEEF site to learn about a specific subject. We overhauled NEEF’s existing site map to include topic-based browsing, with pages that roll resources, storytelling, and NEEF’s impact into one cohesive package. Additional links in the footer also make it easier for specific audiences to find information, such as nonprofits seeking grants or teachers looking for educational materials

NPLD host resources and event locator

Oomph refreshed existing components and added new ones to support one of NEEF’s flagship programs, National Public Lands Day (NPLD). People interested in hosting an event could use the new components to easily set one up, have their own dashboard to manage, and add their event to NEEF’s event locator. Once the event has passed, it’s automatically unlisted from the locator — but archived so hosts can duplicate and relaunch the event in future years.


THE RESULTS

Protecting the Planet, One User at a Time

Oomph helped NEEF launch its beautiful, engaging, and interactive site in May 2023. Within three months, NEEF’s team had built more than 100 new landing pages using the new component library, furthering its goal to build deeper connections with its audiences.

As NEEF’s digital presence continues to grow, so will its impact — all with the new custom site as its foundation.


THE BRIEF

Three Organizations Working Towards One Goal

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) have been commissioning The Harris Poll to conduct a bi-annual, nationally representative survey of adults in the U.S. to understand the public’s beliefs and attitudes about mental health and suicide.

This year, 2022, all three suicide prevention organizations teamed up with Oomph to take that data and distill it into a microsite for easy consumption among professionals and the general public who visit the site.

The data from the poll shows that progress has been made, but there is still more to do. We all must continue to learn more about suicide and mental health, particularly through increased research efforts, teaching everyone how to help prevent suicide and strengthen mental health, and advocate for improved access to care and robust crisis services.

Oomph needed to make sure our approach to information design, branding, and messaging came across effectively and clearly. How could we use data to show people which actions they could personally take to affect positive change?


THE APPROACH

Design Sprint to E-Learning Microsite

Our initial idea of the audience was more public facing rather than a specific audience. We started our design approach to be stylized and playful.

Taking a step back, we regrouped and determined that the audience was more academic and administrative, therefore it was to lean towards a professional tone. A new idea clicked — we could present this microsite as an e-learning experience.

The new design direction features four key chapters: the Introduction, Learn About the Data, Know How to Help, and Advocate for Change. By implementing a tab-like navigation, it allows for users to hop to each section they may be most interested in, and reads as if it is an eBook.

Each section is color coded, and the navigation has a gradient that brings in all of the sections together in unity to showcase that message throughout. Each section follows a similar pattern: an introduction, data from the Harris Poll, an opportunity to find resources about the chapter, and shareable resources to help spread the message on the viewer’s own social channels. We hope that by the end of the microsite, the user is ready to inform themselves further by finding resources or sharing about the current perceptions of suicide.


THE RESULTS

Ongoing Public-education Impact

While Suicide Prevention Now is just one step of many, we hope that this project will help more people to become an advocate, or help spread awareness about suicide prevention. We hope it helps to save lives.

While working on this project, we became aware of a national suicide hotline number that is quick to dial and easy to remember, just like 911. Dial 988 to be connected to a friendly and helpful advocate if you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide.

Working with Oomph was a great experience all the way around. From exploration to delivery, Oomph provided excellent guidance, and the quality of the final site is fantastic! I look forward to working with the team again in the future.

JONATHAN DOZIER-EZELL Director of Digital Communications, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

“Inclusive design” may sound like vague, trendy, technical jargon. But inclusive design isn’t a trend — it’s the world catching up on the kind of digital experiences that should have been part of the web from the beginning.

Inclusive design is a crucial part of nearly every digital platform, be it website, app, or intranet.

Inclusive design as a concept and practice is broad and deep — this article barely scratches the surface, but will help you understand the mindset required. We’ll cover what it is, why it matters for your business, and some ways to assess whether your digital platform could be more inclusive.

  1. What does “inclusive design” mean?
  2. What are the benefits of inclusive design?
  3. How are inclusive design and accessibility different?
  4. How can you make your platform more inclusive?

What does “inclusive design” mean?

The Inclusive Design Research Center defines inclusive design as “design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.” Adding to that, Nielsen Norman calls it creating products that “understand and enable people of all backgrounds and abilities,” including economic situation, geography, race, and more.

Essentially, you’re aspiring to create interfaces that reflect how people from all walks of life interact with the world.

Inclusive design allows people to use a digital platform with ease, whatever their needs or point of view. Looking at characteristics like race, abilities, or geography helps us identify key areas where friction can occur between humans and the web.

In the end, it’s about designing for everyone.

What are the benefits of inclusive design?

Inclusive design isn’t just about recognizing and accommodating diversity; it also creates business advantages for organizations that are willing to invest in an inclusive approach. Here are a few key areas where inclusive design can give your digital platform an edge:

Grow your customer base. By understanding the best way to connect with a wider target audience, your team can create digital experiences that attract the most possible users.

Increase user engagement. Engagement goes up when platforms are welcoming and easy to use. Inclusive web design removes barriers and creates motivation for people to engage with your brand.

Spark innovation. Inclusive solutions have a history of spawning innovation that goes beyond the initial intended audience (think closed-captioning-turned-subtitles on Netflix). Sometimes, when you aim to solve a specific usability issue, you end up creating an entirely new market solution.

Motivate your team. The way a digital platform is designed affects all audiences, even employees. Designing with inclusivity in mind can also have a positive influence on your own team. Engaging employees in your efforts to build an inclusive digital platform can help create a sense of shared purpose — one many people are likely to rally around.

How are inclusive design and accessibility different?

You may have heard these terms used in similar contexts. While they overlap in meaning, they’re not the same thing.

By definition, accessibility focuses on accommodating people with varying physical and mental abilities. Accessible websites are measured by their conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which pertain to things like auditory, cognitive, physical, and visual disabilities. Accessibility tests typically cover code-level issues that can be fixed in the source code of a site.

Inclusive design is about accommodating the entire spectrum of human diversity. It involves a variety of viewpoints, including those of people with disabilities. Inclusive solutions can involve anything from back-end coding to the way headlines are worded.

In a nutshell: An accessible site is one of the outcomes of an inclusive design, whereas inclusive design is the overall approach to creating accessibility.

Consider these examples:

Sample non-inclusive form presents the statement I identify my ethnicity as, with three choices of Black or African, Caucasian or White, and Hispanic or Latino
Note: This is a terrible example of inclusion. People who identify as biracial, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Native American (just to name a few) need to choose from experiences that do not match their own. Simple user research can uncover a variety of choices that would make this form more inclusive.

While both issues are addressed by inclusive design, the first issue relates to ability and can be fixed within the code, while the second relates to diversity and will take additional measures to address.

How Can You Make Your Platform More Inclusive?

The ethnicity example raises some interesting questions, such as:

Mainly, this raises a bigger question: how do you maintain an inclusive site when there are so many important and broad variables (ability, language, culture, gender, age, etc.) — especially when that list of variables continues to grow and change?

The best way to get started is to arm yourself with knowledge and create a plan.

1. Identify the problems to solve.

Start by identifying opportunities for improvement in your current user experience (UX) by collecting quantitative and qualitative research with tools like UX audits, user interviews, user recordings, and heatmaps. Keep an eye out for areas where users seem confused, backpedal, or struggle to complete tasks. The more information you gather, the better!

2. Determine the best solutions.

Your user research will likely uncover many possible paths to change. This may include adding more categories to a list, creating an “Other” field users can type any answer into, or adding options to gather additional information.

Note: It’s common for areas that need improvement to hit on sensitive topics, things you may not fully figure out through data and research. Remember that the goal is understanding. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for their thoughts and opinions.

3. Measure the results.

Some measures of success are easy to determine from user data in Google Analytics or changes in heatmaps and user recordings. Further data can come from users via surveys asking how your audience feels about the changes. The key is to stay continuously informed and aware of what your users are experiencing.

Note: One helpful tool for checking whether your design is, in fact, inclusive is Cards for Humanity. It offers a fun way to make sure you’re not missing anyone or anything in the spectrum of inclusivity.

Remember that the process of creating an inclusive design doesn’t end with implementation. Inclusive design is a work in progress. As a field, inclusive design is always evolving and requires continuous research to develop best practices.


We can’t predict what kind of mismatched interactions users will face in the years to come. But, with an open mind and a desire to learn and grow, we can continually adapt to meet them.

We’ve only scratched the surface of inclusive design! If you have any questions about inclusive design, we’d love to chat. Contact us anytime.


THE BRIEF

Never Stopping, Always Evolving

Leica Geosystems was founded on cutting-edge technology and continues to push the envelope with their revolutionary products. Leica Geosystems was founded by Heinrich Wild and made its first rangefinder in 1921. Fast forward to the 21st century, and Leica Geosystems is the leading manufacturer of precision laser technology used for measurements in architecture, construction, historic preservation, and DIY home remodeling projects.

Oomph and Leica collaborated on an initial project in 2014 and have completed multiple projects since. We transitioned the site into a brand new codebase with Drupal 8. With this conversion, Oomph smoothed out the Leica team’s pain points related to a multisite architecture. We created a tightly integrated single site that can still serve multiple countries, languages, and currencies.


THE CHALLENGE

Feeling the Pain-points with Multisite

Leica’s e-commerce store is active in multiple countries and languages. Managing content in a Drupal multisite environment meant managing multiple sites. Product, content, and price changes were difficult. It was Oomph’s challenge to make content and product management easier for the Leica team as well as support the ability to create new country sites on demand. Leica’s new e-commerce site needed to support:

MULTIPLE COUNTRIES AND A GLOBAL OPTION

SIX LANGUAGES

MANY 3RD-PARTY INTEGRATIONS

The pain points of the previous Multisite architecture were that each country was a silo:

  • No Single Sign On (SSO): Multiple admin log-ins to remember
  • Repetitive updates: Running Drupal’s update script on every site and testing was a lengthy process
  • Multiple stores: Multiple product lists, product features, and prices
  • Multiple sites to translate: each site was sent individually to be translated into one language

THE APPROACH

Creating a Singularity with Drupal 8, Domain Access, & Drupal Commerce

A move to Drupal 8 in combination with some smart choices in module support and customization simplified many aspects of the Leica team’s workflow, including:

From more detailed information about how Oomph leveraged the Domain AccessCountry PathCommerce, and Commerce Store Domain modules, the project’s lead developer, John Picozzi, conducted a talk for Drupal GovCon all about it.


LEARN VS. SHOP

Supporting Visitor Intention with Two Different Modes

While the technical challenges were being worked out, the user experience and design had to reflect a cutting-edge company. With the launch of their revolutionary product, the BLK 360, in 2018, Leica positioned itself as the Apple of the geospatial measurement community — sleek, cool, cutting-edge and easy to use. While many companies want to look as good as Apple, few of them actually have the content and product to back it up.

The navigation for the site went through many rounds of feedback and testing before deciding on something radically simple — Learn or Shop. A customer on the website is either in an exploratory state of mind — browsing, comparing, reviewing pricing and specifications — or they are ready to buy. We made it very clear which part of the website was for which.

This allowed us to talk directly to the customer in two very different ways. On the Learn side, the pages educate and convince. They give the customer information about the product, reviews, articles, sample data files, and the like. The content is big, sleek, and leverages video and other embedded content, like VR, to educate.

On the Shop side the pages are unapologetically transactional. Give the visitor the right information to support a purchase, clearly deliver specs and options like software and warranties, without any marketing. We could assume the customer was here to purchase, not to be convinced, so the page content could concentrate on order completion. The entire checkout process was simplified as much as possible to reduce friction. Buying habits and patterns of their user base over the past few site iterations were studied to inform our choices about where to simplify and where to offer options.


THE RESULTS

More Nimble Together

The willingness of the Drupal community to support the needs of this project cannot be overlooked, either. Oomph has been able to leverage our team’s commitment to open source contributions to get other developers to add features to the modules they support. Without the give and take of the community and our commitment to give back, many modifications and customizations for this project would have been much more difficult. The team at Centarro, maintainers of the Commerce module, were fantastic to work with and we thank them.

We look forward to continuing to support Leica Geosystems and their product line worldwide. With a smooth upgrade path to Drupal 9 in 2020, the site is ready for the next big upgrade.


THE BRIEF

AskRI is a digital platform providing Rhode Island residents with free access to some of the top educational and research tools, along with links to many state resources. A collaboration among the state government and various libraries and agencies, AskRI is essentially a 24/7 help desk for Rhode Islanders.

The platform’s structure has three main approaches:

Databases

Online portals provide free access to premium third-party tools and services, including research platforms and libraries, online learning and tutoring platforms, and consumer resources for health, jobs, and more.

Audiences

AskRI curates information and resources for specific audiences, including K-12 students and teachers, parents, non-native-English speakers, and adults seeking continuing education.

FAQs

Supporting local librarians with ready-made links, the FAQ section answers crowd-sourced questions about a variety of government services (how to get a green card, where to get a fishing permit, etc…).

Fundamentally, it’s an incredible resource! But, as AskRI grew over time, it became increasingly difficult for users to find the information they needed — and harder for site managers to organize, update, and expand the content.

Aiming to make the platform more user-friendly all around, its owners opted for a comprehensive redesign with a few primary goals:


THE APPROACH

Through a quick Discovery phase, we uncovered a diverse user base with a broad range of needs. Our next challenge was to create an energetic brand identity and a more intuitive way to organize the platform.

Visual Branding

Rhode Island is a small but unique place, and its residents are proud of their state. We wanted the new branding to leverage a more modern, yet uniquely Rhode Island, identity. It could also evoke a sense of engagement, reinforcing the platform’s two-way interaction.

Over several design rounds, we explored logos that would represent two-way conversations while suggesting Rhode Island’s distinct shape. We also introduced a new, brighter color palette.

Digital Platform

Redesigning the platform came down to an exercise in information architecture: What was the best way to organize the content so users could quickly find the tools and resources that were most relevant to them?

We knew only a small segment of the target audience would know exactly what they were looking for and be able to search for it directly. Most users would be on a mission of discovery, needing a way to browse the content. Then there was the FAQ section, where users might expect to find answers about the platform itself — but in its current form, the FAQs were confusingly broad and hard to find.

Our solution addressed all three areas:

  • Knowing that frequent users would want to get to familiar databases quickly, we incorporated tried-and-true search and filter tools
  • For those needing more guidance, we created a persona-based architecture with curated lists of content that addressed each persona’s unique needs
  • By making the platform simpler and more intuitive, we removed the need for an FAQ section. We replaced it instead with a more interactive feature

THE RESULTS

These relatively simple changes brought powerful results, creating a more engaging and intuitive platform. The fresh branding celebrates inquisitiveness and interaction, while the redesigned content is much easier for users to navigate and for authors to organize and expand.

The AskRI team loved the new brand identity, which evokes curiosity with visual elements that represent thinking and asking questions. Two thought bubbles form the shape of Rhode Island for the logo, while images of inquisitive people are featured throughout the site. In addition, the new colors bring fresh energy to the brand while preserving a sense of trust and authority.

The redesign not only improved the content’s organization and accessibility, it also fosters a greater sense of interaction with platform users. Visual personas provide an intuitive starting point for exploration, backed up with curated resource lists. A new dropdown menu titled “Find Resources for You” speaks directly to target audiences, while a new “Explore Topics” section offers lists of state resources grouped by user needs (small business, health, families, etc.).

Finally, as the most interactive part of the platform, the redesigned FAQs section is now the “Ask a Librarian” page, where users can submit questions on any topic. The most common platform-related questions get published to the site as a list of answers that users can browse. Input from users will not only inform the kinds of content that goes on the site, but may also spur access to new tools and databases.


THE BRIEF

The Virtual Lab School (VLS) supports military educators with training and enrichment around educational practices from birth through age 12. Their curriculum was developed by a partnership between Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Defense to assist direct-care providers, curriculum specialists, management personnel, and home-based care providers. Because of the distributed nature of educators around the world, courses and certifications are offered virtually through the VLS website.

Comprehensive Platform Assessment

The existing online learning platform had a deep level of complexity under the surface. For a student educator taking a certification course, the site tracks progress through the curriculum. For training leaders, they need to see how their students are progressing, assign additional coursework, or assist a student educator through a particular certification.

Learning platforms in general are complex, and this one is no different. Add to this an intertwined set of military-style administration privileges and it produces a complex tree of layers and permutations.

The focus of the platform assessment phase was to catalog features of the largely undocumented legacy system, uncover complexity that could be simplified, and most importantly identify opportunities for efficiencies.


THE RESULTS

Personalized Online Learning Experience

Enrollment and Administration Portal

Administrators and instructors leverage an enrollment portal to manage the onboarding of new students and view progress on coursework and certifications.

Course Material Delivery

Students experience the course material through a combination of reading, video, and offline coursework downloads for completion and submission.

Learning Assessments & Grading

Students are tested with online assessments, where grading and suggestions are delivered in real time, and submission of offline assignments for review by instructors.

Progress Pathways

A personalized student dashboard is the window into progress, allowing students to see which courses have been started, how much is left to complete, and the status of their certifications.

Certification

Completed coursework and assessments lead students to a point of certification resulting in a printable Certificate of Completion.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Faster and More Secure than Ever Before

When building for speed and scalability, fully leveraging Drupal’s advanced caching system is a major way to support those goals. The system design leverages query- and render-caching to support a high level of performance while also supporting personalization to an individual level. This is accomplished with computed fields and auto-placeholdering utilizing lazy builder.

The result is an application that is quicker to load, more secure, and able to support hundreds more concurrent users.

Why Drupal?

When building for speed and scalability, fully leveraging Drupal’s advanced caching system is a major way to support those goals. The system design leverages query- and render-caching to support a high level of performance while also supporting personalization to an individual level. This is accomplished with computed fields and auto-placeholdering utilizing lazy builder.

The result is an application that is quicker to load, more secure, and able to support hundreds more concurrent users.


THE BRIEF

While One Percent for America (OPA) had an admirable goal of helping eligible immigrants become U.S. citizens, the project faced a major stumbling block. Many immigrants had already been misled by various lending institutions, payday loans, or high-interest credit cards. As a result, the OPA platform would need a sense of trustworthiness and authority to shine through.

The platform also had to handle a broad array of tasks through a complex set of workflows, backstops, and software integrations. These tasks included delivering content, signing up users, verifying eligibility, connecting to financial institutions, managing loan data and investment balances, and electronically sending funds to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


THE APPROACH

Given the challenges, our work began with a month-long discovery process, probing deeper into the audience, competitive landscape, customer journeys, and technological requirements for the platform. Here’s what we learned.

The Borrower Experience

Among those deep in the citizenship process and close to finishing the paperwork, many are simply waiting to have the funds to conclude their journey. For them, we designed as simple a workflow as possible to create an account, pass a security check, and apply for a loan.

Other users who are just starting the process need to understand whether they’re eligible for citizenship and what the process entails. We knew this would require smart, in-depth content to answer their questions and provide guidance — which was also a crucial component in earning their trust. Giving away genuinely helpful information, combined with carefully chosen language and photography, helped lend authenticity to OPA’s stated mission.

The Investor Experience

OPA sought to crowdfund capital from small investors, not institutions, creating a community-led funding source that could scale to meet borrowers’ needs. A key innovation is that funders can choose between two options: making tax-deductible donations or short-term loans.

If an investor makes a loan, at the end of the term they can decide to reinvest for another term, turn the money into a donation, or withdraw the funds. To reinforce the circular nature of the platform, we designed the experience so that borrowers could become investors themselves. The platform makes it easy for borrowers to change their intent and access different tools. Maturity dates are prominently displayed alongside “Lend Again” and “Donate” actions. Testimonials from borrowers on the dashboard reinforce the kinds of people who are helped by an investment.

The Mobile Experience

Our research made it clear the mobile experience had to be best in class, as many users would either prefer using a phone or didn’t have regular access to a tablet or computer. But, that didn’t mean creating a mobile app in addition to a desktop website. Instead, by designing a universal web app, we built a more robust experience — more powerful than most mobile apps — that can be used anywhere, on any device.

However, tasks like signing up for an account or applying for a loan need to be as easy on a mobile device as on a desktop. Key UX elements like step-by-step workflows, large touch targets, generous spacing on form fields, soft colors, and easy-to-read fonts produced a highly user-friendly interface.


THE RESULTS

Together with our technology partners, CraftsmanMotionpoint, and Platform.sh, we built an innovative digital platform that meets its users exactly where they are, from both a technological and cultural standpoint.

This groundbreaking work earned us a Gold Medal from the inaugural 2022 Anthem Awards, in the Innovation in Human and Civil Rights category. The award recognizes new techniques and services that advance communities and boost contributory funds.

In our ongoing partnership with OPA, Oomph will continue working to expand the business model with new features. We’re proud to have helped build this impactful resource to support the community of new Americans.