Project Overview

GRCC home page on various screen sizes

Always Open Design worked closely with the GRCC program manager to refine and develop content, create a stable site architecture that allowed their small team to scale, and work to highlight the unique aspects of the local business and creative community in Ravenswood, Chicago. Many spreadsheets were used in the making of this site. In 2022, we worked with GRCC again to rebrand the palette and various logos in use.

Challenges

This “vintage” WordPress site had accumulated a lot of issues since it’s build in 2012:

  • Flat architecture: Since the web is all about relationships, we want to see a clear hierarchy of content – relationships between pages help give meaning and importance to content.
  • Hard to use and remember menu structure: If a page was created, it got added to the menu – there wasn’t really a clear logic to either event.
  • Lack of meaningful headings: Whoah – this was problematic. Essentially, the lack of headings resulted in a lack of semantic page structure and (again) meaning.
  • Poor URL structure: On-the-fly URLs created for those on-the-fly pages meant that we were missing out on useful, readable URLs that people could readily understand and trust.
  • Inconsistent use of content types: Since this site was largely inherited, there was never a real technical hand-off or training time. Hence, a lot of the dynamic power of WordPress was underutilized.

This comprehensive neighborhood resource site needed be made useful to its constituents.

Robust, interconnected site architecture is essential to allowing search engines and people and to understand the relationships within your content. Poor site architecture can impede navigation and make it harder for search engines to crawl.

We tackled each issue in a methodical manner. Our first step was a thorough site inventory. All pages, posts, and metadata were catalogued in spreadsheets. We culled evergreen content from the ephemera of past events and promotions, identified content that needed to be redirected, highlighted problematic URLs, and set to work grouping and organizing refined content into a flexible and meaningful architecture.

User testing was conducted via screenshare for specific tasks and an open card sort was used to help determine natural groups and common language.

As we began to eradicate sprawl, duplication, and inaccurate content, clear relationships were able to emerge. This is great for readers and has the added benefit of making a more manageable website for editors.

The Mega-Menu

Based on research conducted by the Nielson Norman Group, we recommended a mega-menu as the best way to make content more findable.

Including sub-menus on child pages reinforces both where you are on the site and what related content is available to you, helping to create intuitive, usable site navigation.

Breadcrumbs were added to further aid in navigation as well as a robust site search, site map, and helpful 404 page.

A more maintainable and scalable website

Custom post types were created to highlight specific and unique content such as the Neighborhood Spotlight, Malt Row Businesses, and Staff and Board Members. Making use of WordPress’s dynamic post functionality allowed us to eliminate a lot of duplication of work and out of date content. Modular custom post types can be pulled in where useful and necessary, enhancing evergreen content and reducing the need to edit multiple pages.

Project Details

Launch date

2012, 2019, 2022


Website

ravenswoodchicago.org


  • Usability testing
  • Content strategy
  • UX / Design
  • WordPress Development
  • Writing, Editing
  • Accessibility testing, remediation
  • Site migration to new host
  • Integration with 3rd party tools
  • Project management

Tools

  • WordPress
  • CSS, PHP
  • ChamberMaster
  • Lots of spreadsheets