A nationwide company with over 2000 employees and an annual revenue of over three billion dollars, Hensel Phelps is a proven leader in the planning, building, and management of large scale construction projects.
Hensel Phelps has tasked Jacob Tyler Agency with enhancing its website by creating an impactful, relevant and attractive online presence so that they may continue their path for success, credibility and new opportunities for expansion and profit. Jacob Tyler Agency will create an online experience which will position Hensel Phelps as the best-in-breed service leader for all things construction.
The first step in the process was making a Competitive Analysis. The reason that this is a part of the UX process is because we want to see how others have approached similar problems and try not to reinvent the wheel. It can also serve as a great source of inspiration or give insight as to what not to do. On top of that, we get a better understanding of what the competitors are doing and such findings can play a strong factor into a company’s strategic planning.
If budget permits, I believe that every project should include a Competitive Analysis as a deliverable. It benefits both the business and the users. It benefits the business because how else would one know that they have an edge over their competition if they don’t know what the competition is even doing? It helps users because users in turn know exactly what to expect. The terminology is consistent and users don’t have to overthink anything because they have already seen it before. Great examples are restaurant websites. Users want to find the menu so it’s best practices nowadays to have a tab in the navigation called “Menu”. No need to overcomplicate things and find a synonym just to be “different” from everyone else, it is perfectly acceptable to be familiar.
Next we made an Information Architecture. This was a bit challenging because their Sales Strategy actually limited us. On their navigation, they had three tabs called “Plan”, “Build”, and “Manage”. And within each of those tabs, were lower level pages of “Plan”, “Build”, “Manage” again. So what does that exactly mean? It’s very confusing and we recommended getting rid of that structure but we couldn’t make it disappear at first because it’s been ingrained in their Sales pitch for a long time. It was a part of their identity and how their own clients understood the company. This isn’t unique to just Hensel Phelps, in fact every client has some level of resistance to change. Even though we’re hired to revamp their website and be leaned on as the expert, there are still times when they can’t let go of the past and do what’s best for users. Of course, there is a very fine line and for marketing reasons you shouldn’t scrap everything completely. Imagine if you woke up one day and found out that McDonalds was now called Best Burger? It would send shockwaves around the world. Eventually, we won the client over and they agreed to scrap it.
This is a skill that I’m getting better at everyday, which is to be more comfortable and confident with telling people “no”. After all, I’m a UX/UI Designer. I’m suppose to be the voice for users. If a business was going to do something that would make something not user friendly, I have a duty to speak up and fight for the users. I am so passionate for UX/UI that it bothers me when someone says “hey, how about we put 10 sliders on the homepage?” or “can we just add a popup?”. To me, it’s common sense not to have those things on a website but I often forget that not everyone had the formal educational background and agency experience on UX/UI.
If you’ve read the YMCA project, you know that this is my favorite step in the process. I can’t put my finger as to why I like wire framing more than design. Maybe it’s because this is the first exposure to actually drawing something. Quite frankly, I like drawing more than research. Our intentions with the wireframes was to simplify the way content was presented and incorporate more images. It’s currently a website trend to have more images and less text since users are no longer reading as much as they used to.
I must admit that I liked the colors that were chosen for their brand. Often times with design, you have to work in the confines of approved colors and fonts. And that’s ok, except when they’re visually unappealing. They had a dark theme with red accents. Red also happens to be my favorite color, so hopefully I wasn’t biased on anything. As you can see from the design below, there’s a lot of imagery. Also another perk, was their selection of photos. They had a plethora of great photos to choose from that were high res and had good focal points of the subjects. It’s one of my pet peeves when there are only low quality jpgs and tons of cheesy stock photos. So we always try to recommend that they do a photoshoot with a professional photographer if we feel they are lacking in that department. UI can only so far without photos.
This is still a work in Progress. Website is set to launch in Early 2017.