UX Designer | Sep 2019 - April 2020 | Remote Position
Open Opportunities is a professional development program created by the Office of Personnel Management to break down the silos that exist across the federal government. Open Opportunities allows federal employees to collaborate on projects, complete detail opportunities, and connect with other individuals across government with similar skills and interests. OPM desired to highlight the experiences and stories of those that have participated in Open Opportunities in a microsite.
A Framework for Integration into the Open Opportunities website
I developed the framework for highlighting the stories of Open Opportunity participants, and helped to increase the accessibility of access to information. The microsite serves as the framework for how the Open Opportunities website can be modified to highlight the experiences and stories of Open Opportunities participants. It was through designing, and prototyping the microsite, we determined that elements included in the microsite should be integrated into the existing Open Opportunities website, instead of the standalone microsite and the information should not require credentialed access.
Reviewing the Landscape
I reviewed a number of federal websites to familiarize myself as to how various government organizations represent themselves online, paying special attention to things such as brand identity, interactions, and presentation of information. I also audited websites OPM admired to get a better sense of the direction they wanted to go in and to determine what to incorporate into the microsite.
Brainstorm + Sitemap
From the audit, I explored different options of the pages that should be included in the redesign. I started with the navigation, thinking about the structure of the page, subpages, and how the content of the pages would be organized. Rather than having the microsite as a place to solely highlight participant stories, the team sought to include ways in which the microsite could be used to increase user engagement through the forum and blog.
Wireframe and Hi-Fidelity Mockup
I developed a wireframe for the microsite and received feedback from internal stakeholders at OPM. Through this iterative process, the team tweaked the initial sitemap removing content that was deemed a privacy/security risk. After each major update, there was a cyclical process of design reviews and incorporating relevant feedback from internal stakeholders to include community members, developers, and management.
Hi-fidelity Mockup + Prototyping
I prototyped the hi-fidelity mockup to show how users would navigate through the microsite and how content would be linked across the site. Ultimately, it was the prototype that helped to solidify the idea that perhaps the contents from microsite should be integrated in the main website. The prototype included a number of external links as users would need to visit the Open Opportunities website in order to do things such as applying for opportunities.
Feedback and Evaluation
Critical to each iteration of the microsite was feedback, evaluation, and collaboration. As a remote team member, on the Open Opportunities microsite project there were times when I was presenting my design remotely, and times when another team member that was physically present in the office would solicit feedback that would then be incorporated into the design.
Integration into the Open Opportunities Website
While the microsite helped to effectively communicate the stories of individuals' experiences within the Open Opportunities program, as the site became more “real,” it proved to be better suited for integration into the main website. Much of the routing through the microsite would ultimately have users going to the main Open Opportunities website to do things such as sign up for an opportunity, or learn about how to post opportunities. Having the microsite as a standalone created some redundancy between the main Open Opportunities site and the microsite. The microsite could not make assumptions about its users, it could not be used to solely highlight the experiences and stories of Open Opportunity participants without informing users about what Open Opportunities is. Ultimately, we believe the redundancy between the two sites would significantly disrupt the user flow through both sites.
Another concern of having a standalone microsite was the marketing of the site. If users are familiar with the main Open Opportunities website? what would the name of the microsite be called, what logos would be included on the microsite to distinguish it from the main website, and how would you direct users to the main website and vice versa.
The Microsite Framework
The following were core elements of the microsite, for utilization into the Open Opportunities website:
Homepage - Organization and presentation of information pertaining to getting involved with the Open Opportunities program and spotlighting participant stories.
Stories - Highlighting participant experiences within the Open Opportunities program
Blog page - Recognizing stories from the monthly newsletter that prior to the microsite were reliant upon a listserv
About page- Intuitive and dedicated space to provide context and information about the Open Opportunities program and community programs.
Forum Page- A collaborative FAQ space for users to engage and collaborate with one another.
The contents of the homepage were designed in the order of What, How, Why. With users first learning of what Open Opportunities is, how they could get involved and why they should get involved. With individual stories on the microsite coming from both individuals that participated in opportunities and those that posted opportunities, explaining how individuals could participate in the program prior to introducing showcasing the stories was imperative. The image below shows how links from the homepage would direct users to the Open Opportunities website.
The stories landing page was designed in a way that pushed the images of individual participants and notable quotes from their experiences to the forefront. For the individual stories page, included a large image of the individual participant and information about their role and the project they completed at the top. At the conclusion of the story, I included a section that highlighted quotes and images from other stories that the user may enjoy after viewing the selected story as a way to provide other content they may enjoy.
The blog features had a similar feel to the Stories page. Blog posts were envisioned to be a bit more static, compared to the stories page and was designed in a way that would quickly allow users to see the showcased stories.
About Page and Forum Page
Within the microsite, the forum page became both a privacy and security concern. However, there now may be room for integration into the Open Opportunities website if made available to those with credentialed access. The About page in the microsite served as a dedicated space to highlight the mission of Open Opportunities and to include information about community groups. On the Open Opportunities website, the about section is embedded within the help center, and is not intuitive. While there are concerns over what types of information could be included on the about page, including a dedicated page to learn about Open Opportunities is important to informing users about the details of the program.
Open Opportunities website homepage and information about the program