As you may have noticed, the OpenDNS website is undergoing a series of changes—we’re adding new pages, new sections, new imagery— updating the look and feel of the site. Recently, we launched a brand-new Resources section and I sat down with Stephanie Kalacis, an OpenDNS UX Designer, to hear more about the process behind the redesign.

skalacis_workingWhat was your role in redesigning the Resources section?

SK: My primary role in the redesign was the visual design of the section. The OpenDNS web team has great brainstorming sessions, so that was where the base UX decisions were made. After that, I was able to build on some of those decisions, and bring the design into the visual chapter of the project.

Our brainstorming sessions will always consist of a Google Hangout between offices, some whiteboards and lively discussion. For larger projects (or those that are a little trickier) we’ll use an awesome brainstorming method we adapted from the web-team offsite we had in June. This works really well for us, and is how we came to the new homepage redesign!

The process is essentially broken into 3 stages and makes use of rapid-fire thinking (and lots of sticky-notes). First stage is the “blue-sky” ideation stage—this is where we write down any possible idea that comes to mind, no matter how crazy or wild it may be. Next we bring it down into the “realist” phase, where we reorganize, prioritize, and hone in on the more solid ideas. Finally comes the last stage, where we “shoot holes” in the ideas we’ve come up with so far. This is where we determine which ideas survived the process, and which ones we should take action on.

Why was it important to redesign the Resources section?

SK: All of our design decisions are based off of a set of user mental model questions we derive from internal and external surveys. The goal is to define these questions, then build a design to answer them.

Previously, the Resources section was split up into a series of pages based on the format of the resource. For example, we had a page dedicated to White Papers, a page for Datasheets, for Infographics, and so on and so forth. We discovered that this method of displaying information wasn’t in line with what our users needed. From a UX standpoint, visitors weren’t interested in searching for a resource by its format. What they’re looking for is a resource related to the topic of their need, or relevant role—regardless of the format.

In light of this information, what changed in the redesign?

SK: With this in mind, the multiple-page setup that we had seen before was put aside to make way for a new, dynamic one-page approach to the Resource section.  This approach would make for a smoother overall experience—allowing the user to quickly identify with one of the 3 user types listed (Security Practitioner, IT Professional, or MSP), scan through a nice selection of topics, and select a format.

How did the team decide on the one-page design?

SK: Well once the decision was made to eliminate the page-per-format structure, it only made sense to move to a one-page design.  It was a simple solution to a more complex problem.

As for the visual design of the page, we wanted to keep things nice and light—easy to use. As the resources themselves are so rich in content, our aim was to keep the design simple and minimal. The user shouldn’t have to think too hard before diving in. With a one-page design, they could put their focus into consuming our wonderful resources, such as the brand new case studies we just released.

What’s the best new feature of the section?

SK: Hands-down, the best new feature is the filtering mechanism. It’s clean and functions smoothly. It is now much easier to find what you need! I personally think it’s fun to use as well, which is always an added bonus.

Another aspect I really like is the little orange “Premium” icon.  It adds a slight pop of color to the page, but most importantly it marks the content that is gated (requiring the user’s contact information). This addition to the page manages our users’ expectations from the get-go, which is a UX win.

What do you hope users will get out of the redesign?

SK: A more fluid experience! We have such valuable resources to consume, the goal is to give the users a more intuitive path to reach these resources. I am sure our visitors (and in turn, our company) will benefit from the section getting a much-needed facelift!

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