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10 Great Websites: IxDA.org

September 13, 2010 - 9:20 am EDT
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  • Company: Interaction Design Association

    URL: www.ixda.org

    Target audience: Recruiters and members

    Key Web executives: Matthew Nish-Lapidus, director; Liz Bacon, IxDA director emeritus

    Number of people who work on the site: 15

    Last major redesign: February 2010

    No. of pages on the site: Fewer than 1,000

    Web developer: In-house, with help from design firm Growing Venture Solutions, Denver

    Exponential growth—and a popular conference—were the two reasons that the Interaction Design Association, an industry group that looks at the structure and behavior of interactive systems, was forced to undertake a major site redesign.

    "Originally, the site was just a discussion forum and a place for local groups to meet up," said Liz Bacon, IxDA director emeritus, who was instrumental in the redesign. "Then we had our first conference in 2008 and that led to explosive growth. People were really interested in finding out more about the conference, and they were really interested in connecting with each other."

    To enable both tasks, IxDA knew it would need a major site overhaul. Before starting the process, the organization set a few goals. Among them: Foster online conversations, provide a repository for conference materials, create a section for job postings and provide local groups a place to meet and interact.

    The redesign work was done by a group of volunteers (starting with about 30, but eventually trickling down to 10 or so) with help from an outside design firm. Using personas and scenarios, the team figured out how members and visitors wanted to flow through the site and translated that into the current design.

    The redesign team created a Twitter update section on the home page and a section to highlight member activity. It also updated the site's search function.

    "One thing that happens with discussions is that certain questions are asked over and over again, like, "Which school is the best place to study?' so we wanted to combine searchability with topic filtering," Bacon said.

    Now, when a visitor types a subject line into a new thread, the site instantly searches for similar threads and brings them up. "It helps because a lot of repeat conversations don't get posted," she said.

    Expert commentary, Sandy Marsico, principal, Sandstorm Design: It's really easy to search the website content for research, information or links to local groups. The navigation is supereasy and intuitive. In addition, the organization provides its visitors with great discussion links and social media options. You can come to the site for the first time and instantly get involved and see what's being discussed. You can roll over a [registered] visitor's name and see how long ago they were there, and also see what's being tweeted about the organization. The site is beautiful, too, with solid design aesthetics.

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