The Problem:
Keystone Symposia had a website and web-application that had steadily evolved and grew over the years into a difficult to manage digital platform with over six hundred different pages on roughly four hundred unique page templates. BUT the entire business operated through that web-application and it couldn’t go down without seriously disrupting the next season of scientific conferences around the globe.

How does an UX designer even begin to approach a website project that has over 600 pages, each with a varying level of importance and content, while still maintaining the integrity of the web-app that allows attendees from across the globe to easily sign up for scientific conferences? For those of you not in the know, Keystone Symposia is an organization that puts on scientific conferences focused on life sciences for the world’s foremost scientific thinkers. Through their website a variety of different users could sign up for these conferences, buy tickets, learn about scholarships, learn about the activities centered around the conferences, register for speaking workshops and submit their presentation information – just to name a few of the problems their web-app needed to continue to solve.

So how did it get done?

Persona Discovery & Jobs-to-be-Done

We started this project where most UX projects start, by figuring out who the target users were and building personas during a discovery workshop. While not finalized, these personas served as a reference point that the teams could attach workflows to – these early personas are called proto-personas. These proto-personas were then tested against data that had been aggregated by their current system and through user surveys to build towards more accurate representations of the end users.

Then came the creation of the Jobs-to-be-Done. Here, we worked closely with the Keystone Symposia team to discover what exactly needed to be done by the various individuals attending the conferences – whether they are fulfilling a speaking role, attending as a student on a scholarship, hosting a workshop or attending as a representative of a business. Each type of user had specific actions that needed to be taken and information that needed to be conveyed – so we constructed a variety of flowcharts showing each persona’s specific user journey throughout the process. These workflows served as the guide for building out the new site’s information architecture.

Analyzing the Market & Building the Information Architecture

Once our team knew the problems that needed solving and the rough outline of the information that needed to be collected, we set to work on analyzing the overall marketplace that Keystone existed within – looking at both their competition and sites that utilized processes that could benefit Keystone Symposia (analogous examples). Once we had an understanding of their competition, we performed multiple SWOT analysis to determine how Keystone could better utilize their strengths to attack their competition’s weaknesses online. Looking at analogous example sites we found several design patterns that could be utilized to help users easily convert and understand what the merit of attending these conferences were.

Now, armed with some solid design patterns, a competitive analysis, (validated) personas, and the jobs they are looking to accomplish our team moved into building out the information architecture for the new Keystone Symposia site. Click on the images below to check out our presentation deck, showcasing our aggregated research, our personas and our jobs-to-be-done workflows. Additionally, the suggested information architecture is included below – showcasing how we were able to trim down the 600 page behemoth into a much more managable number of pages.