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Welcome to El Nino Media – 360° UX design

El Nino Media is a UX consultancy specialising in user-centred (UX) content strategy and information architecture (IA).

What makes us different to other UX agencies is that we take a content-centric approach to the planning, design, and maintenance of websites.

A content-centric approach to information architecture

Information architecture is often mistaken for being a discipline belonging to visual design. However, a significant number of the most important and most used websites, such as Google, Wikipedia, and craigslist – to take just three examples –, have little or no visual design.

People do not navigate websites using colours and shapes. They do so using words. That is not to say that colours and shapes do not affect the user experience, they do, but they are not the principle component. Words are; the labels in the navigation; the words on the page are.

Accessible platform independent design

We take accessibility seriously. Not only is it the right thing to, to make websites usable for blind or physically impaired users; after all printed books cannot talk, but content on the web can via speaking browsers; but taking care to deliver websites that are compliant with accessibility standards benefits the cause of good design. It means that you must properly structure information in a logical and meaningful way using well-formed HTML; it means that on-going maintenance of content has to be taken into account during the design stage; and accessible websites will always work across mobile and tablet devices demands scale able and/or adaptive design.

Search engine optimisation is a UX issue

Accessible web design will also help your pages be accurately indexed by search engines. Deployed together will properly structured metadata users will be able to find the information you provide. We believe that if you are not building search engine optimisation (SEO) into your information architecture, you are over-looking a key part of user experience; because users will use search engines to find your website; and if you have an enterprise search on your website, users will use the search to navigate your site.

User-centred content strategy

User experience is not only expressed in the structure/navigation and page layout of websites; it is also expressed in the use of language and the way content is organised. Care must be taken to bring together information that users expect to be found in the same place; using descriptors that are meaningful to them; and written in plain English.

A typical error in this regard is to replicate their organisational structure in their websites' information architecture, and also replicates their organisations jargon in the content. People don't necessarily need to know how your business is broken down into different units, and they may not be familiar with the technical language you use in the workplace. They might want to buy your product and service though, if only they could understand what you are offering.

Utilising asability testing to improve user experience based on evidence

We use usability testing to objectively test whether people can both discover and understand your website. Usability testing does not need to be expensive. Remote usability testing using screen-sharing software is much cheaper than lab based testing, and it also has the advantage that the test participants get to use their own computer at their home of their office, meaning that the testing is much more realistic. Using task analysis, which is getting the participants to do something are find something out is brilliant for discovering what actually works for real people.

Usability testing can be used to improve your existing website. It is not just a tool to be used in the development of new websites. Blocks to usability are often as simple as having used the wrong word on a navigational label, or having placed information at the wrong juncture in the user journey. Fixing usability issues need not necessarily involve expensive and protracted site re-designs.

Of course usability testing is very useful in the development of new websites, once you have a prototype (even a paper one) or beta to test. When designing and planning new websites there are a range of UX research techniques that can be deployed, such as card sorting, ethnographic study, focus groups, and personas.

Content Management Systems: where user experience is won and lost

Planning and designing websites should also involve proper consideration of how websites are to be maintained. We recommend that you take as much care and consideration in choosing or designing the content management system (CMS) as you do with the front end of the website. Many websites degrade over time because the content editors and CMS operators have been provided with maintenance tools that are slow and clunky to use, and do not allow them to make updates without introducing errors into the code and the structure.

360° UX design

And yes, we also provide the wire-frames and functional specification you would expect from a UX agency. We work with designers and developers to complete the finished product. And we work with clients to help them clearly articulate what the finished product needs to achieve. We call it 360° UX design.