Harvard Sustainability

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When the Harvard Office for Sustainability (OFS) came to us, their website’s confusing navigation the effectively buried hundreds of useful resources. Posters, videos, tips, green building case studies, a guide to operating your laboratory freezer more efficiently, and much more information was basically wasted in that it was too hard to find. While the website redesign had many goals, a big one was to improve access to these practical tools, and to encourage exploration and sharing. Surveys confirmed that users wanted this too! Here are a few ways we helped.

Flexible slideshows

The homepage and all other pages feature a flexible banner area that can either hold a slideshow, single image, or video. The OFS team can also add teasers and links to any slide in order to draw attention to new or especially important content.

Improved tagging and categorization

Site visitors can now access content in a number of different ways, depending on their focus:

  1. By topic, such as energy, waste, or transportation.
  2. By place, such as a home, lab, or office.
  3. Through one of Harvard’s sustainability programs, such as their popular Green Office Program.
  4. By a specific school or unit on campus.
  5. By type, such as a case study, a poster, or a video.

“Explore” areas & related content

The homepage always shows 6 tools and resources within a randomly selected topic. When you visit any of those topic’s dedicated pages, you see another Explore area with more tools and resources in that category. The Explore areas select tools and resources at random to showcase great content and ensure visitors always see something new.

Similarly, the OFS team can feature related tools and resources at the bottom of any page to promote further exploration and improve engagement.

Improved site search

Lastly, we beefed up their site search using Apache Solr, and created both a searchable Tools & Resources area as well as a customized search results page. Search results get an icon to show what kind of content it is, and can be filtered by all the topics, places, and schools we mentioned above.

Results

Usability testing confirmed that people were able to much more easily find and explore content using this new navigation system. The OFS team has seen a big improvement in user engagement and the time visitors spend on the site, not to mention lots of compliments on the clean, modern, and mobile-friendly design!