Organization: Ministry of Education/Training Colleges and Universities
Project
: Ministry corporate site overhaul and Second Career mini-site build.
Year: 2008
Position: Senior Web Communications Advisor

CHALLENGE

Due to the downturn in the world economy in 2008, Ontario’s once strong manufacturing sector was very badly affected. Many people were left without jobs and people were looking to the government for help and leadership.

A new government program would be announced where people who had lost their jobs could apply for funding to retrain for a new career. The program was called Second Career and it would be administered by Ministry of Education/Training Colleges and Universities.

To publicize the initiative, the government would hire a top advertising company to create a high profile TV, radio and “surround” campaign.

To support this campaign, a brand new mini-site would be created with video and photo testimonials as well as policy and information people could use to apply. It was also decided that the entire ministry site would be overhauled and re-organized. We had three months to accomplish all of this

REQUIREMENTS AND PLANNING

Our internal digital team worked closely with the Cabinet Office (the government’s decision making branch) and the advertising agency to create a strategy to :

– create focus groups to talk to members of the public to understand the public’s mood
– understand our audience (people who had lost their jobs) and what their needs were
– determine look and feel for the site
– determine what kind of help or services people needed and what answers they were looking for

PERSONAS AND MOCK-UPS

Based on findings from focus groups and members of the public, our team created different personas to represent the different kinds of people who might use the Second Career advice or services.

They were mainly from different manufacturing sectors (automobile, appliances, electronics), service sectors.

Additionally, we had to think of different gender, age, ethnographic and linguistic personas to add to the list of people we would be communicating to.

In developing the personas for this initiative, we realized that we had to communicate  a tone that was infomative, empathetic and optimistic.

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

To better support the increased traffic to the ministry corporate site, an information management initiative was launched to audit, re-organize and re-write large sections of the site.

This was done to improve not only the ability of users to find information, but it was also done to increase the accessibility of the site by deleting unnecessary photos, infographics, etc.

INTERFACE

The site’s look and feel was to be re-vamped to be in line with a new corporate initiative that supported better accessibility, and conformed to a new, unified corporate brand with cleaner aesthetics site structure. It also supported the new government social media channels, including Twitter, video content and Facebook.

In order to show greater empathy and connection with the audience it was decided that testimonials of real people were going to be created in order to highlight how the program worked and how it made a difference in people’s lives.

We also created a tool whereby people could use a series of a few dropdown menus to access differents kinds of information and services and see where their nearest employment office was for in-person support.

USER TESTING

Test plans for both internal testing and some user-testing (with the initial focus groups) were developed.

Due to the scope of the project and the tight turnaround, user testing was done with high-fidelity wireframes instead of prototypes.

Feedback was generally very positive and the testimonial content definitely resonated with users.

MEASUREMENT

Our measurement methods would combine weekly data analytics analysis, along with measuring the number of applications for the new government program. These numbers were provided by front-line program staff in the various employment offices around the province.

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

Based on the priorities of the government and the information from the focus groups we had engaged, we had formulated key performance indicators that were based on a combination of both public awareness of the Second Career programs (as well as the number of people downloading applications from the site) as well the number of people applying to the program.

Our measurement methods would combine weekly data analytics analysis, along with measuring the number of applications for the new government program. These numbers were provided by front-line program staff in the various employment offices around the province.

OUTCOME

The entire scope of work was completed successfully and launched in conjunction with the advertising campaign.

Post-launch, web analytics were gathered and showed a huge number visits to the Second Career site, as well as a greater number of visitors to the larger ministry site and the various areas of content that had been re-organized and re-written.

The initiative was a great success for the ministry and ended up helping a large number of people get funding to re-train for new careers.