AAFP is one of the largest medical associations in the United States, with a membership of more than 120,000 family practice physicians. Much like the doctors it serves, AAFP’s website needed to be able to meet a broad variety of needs, yet quickly narrow down to specific solutions when necessary.
The AAFP web team was preparing for an upgrade of their content management system, and with that came the usual (and often underestimated) work of fitting thousands of pages of content into a new system. AAFP wisely took the opportunity to improve not only the back-end functionality, but also the front-end user experience, which required a new way of presenting the content. The revised information architecture would undoubtably make for a better experience. But it also required a whole new content strategy, and a serious exercise in content reduction.
Level Five focused on identifying patterns and templates — a pretty common activity for a project like this. It quickly became clear that the nature of content required multiple unique landing pages. AAFP.org strives to meet a variety of needs: medical reference, continuing education, advocacy, and practice management, just to name a few. They also have a talented and dedicated team of content owners producing information to feed each area. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and the team needed to take on a pretty intense auditing and purging process. We also worked with them to conduct card sorts and navigation mapping. Finally, we validated the proposed information architecture against a robust set of user personas, and then tested with actual users.
The content process — purging, categorizing, and re-thinking strategy — can be overwhelming. But it’s critical to a successful site, and the AAFP team embraced it with enthusiasm. The results can be seen in the continued success and robust content of AAFP.org
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