Alumina Limited is a top 100 Australian publicly listed company that provides investors with a direct investment in the world’s largest alumina business. Their audience is a complex mix of institutional investors, retail shareholders, media, government, regulators and environmental interest groups; rather than consumers of alumina product.
As their digital design supplier, I worked directly with the client’s internal project team and external developer throughout the project. I personally managed the design process, designed the user experience, created the visual design and developed a design system for the user interface. Throughout the production process, I worked with the development team to brief them, refine and expand the design system as needed, curate visual content, and to test and refine the implementation.
The need for a new website
The previous version of the Alumina Limited website had grown organically as large amounts of information were added and the organisation’s positioning to the investment community had changed. Users were finding the site confusing to use and understand.
A new information-rich website was needed with a complex message to be optimised for a diverse audience. Although the client was acutely aware of the shortfalls of the current site, working out where to start was daunting. They didn’t just need a design solution, they needed a process for resolving their website strategy.
Defining the users
Working together with the team at Alumina Limited, I created personas to help align our understanding of the goals, desires and problems faced by users. These personas were based on the information the client knew about their audience. With such a diverse target audience, the personas helped us focus on each segment, and with input from stakeholders, I was able to prioritise the importance of addressing each consideration.
Research & analysis
Initial effort centred on competitor research and analysis and existing Google analytics data. Surprising insights were obtained about the way users interacted with the site, especially that some of the most viewed pages were not ones that were immediately prominent to users.
Additional research into current large corporate investor centre best practice helped to frame our approach to restructuring and presenting the site.
Getting the information architecture right
Alumina Limited knew users found it difficult to find what they wanted amongst the hundreds of pages that made up the existing site. In an effort to assist users find information, large amounts of content had been duplicated, making navigation even more complex.
My approach to information architecture was an iterative process of bottom up analysis and design, interspersed with top-down persona-based testing. Although the scope of the site remained largely unchanged, the structure was radically changed to gel with the goals of users. The lessons learned from the information architecture stage reverberated through and informed all subsequent stages.
I built wireframe layouts to help test the hierarchy of information, navigation solutions and the information architecture. This process provided the opportunity to quickly explore and demonstrate the effect of different choices. In some cases, this led to reviewing and refining earlier information architecture decisions. The final wireframes provided a clear blueprint for the visual design stage of the project.
The deep understanding I gained from the planning process was instrumental in informing the visual design stage. I created three unique design concepts, each based on a single simple idea that reflected Alumina Limited’s current market position. In review with project stakeholders and the executive management team, the winning solution was selected and refined.
See my visual design portfolio for the final design
To realise the creative design vision and ensure consistent presentation of the brand across such a large website, I developed a system of design guidelines and tools. The style guide covered typography, colours, photography, iconography, graphical charts, hierarchy management and interactions. Tools included charting and document templates, automated processes for preparing content for the site, reusable graphical elements, an image library, and icon sets.