It's a new year... and a new launch
We started working with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) in late May and are delighted to announce the launch of their new website — www.capp.ca! This was an exciting project for us as we got to work with an enthusiastic client, the project included interesting subject matter and we had an aggressive schedule.
I would share a bit of our early design process and some of the challenges we had along the way?
We spend time at the beginning of a project getting grounded and running what we call a "business orientation session" to get acclimatized to a project. Sometimes we like to call this "sipping from the firehouse and asking all the bozo questions." We do this because we can't design in a vacuum — we need to understand relevant background information, strategy and business value before we start charging ahead.
CAPP is the voice of Canada's upstream oil and natural gas industry, representing over 130 member companies. Their overall mission is: to enhance the economic well-being and sustainability of the industry in a socially, environmentally, and technically responsible and safe manner.
We were tasked with creating "a web site that provides CAPP stakeholders with quick and easy access to credible, timely and up-to-date information pertaining to the issues faced by the upstream oil and gas industry." At first this struck me as a little vague, but the fun part was dissecting this statement, asking questions, and researching what we really meant by "CAPP stakeholders," "quick and easy," and even what exactly "upstream" is.
As part of getting familiar with the industry and website strategy, we started to think about the different audiences. Audiences are important to define at the beginning of a project, and are often described in many different ways — personas, market segments, and user groups are sometimes used. Thinking about the different audiences helped us focus on specific groups of people and their needs, instead of the more general "user." The audiences we defined also formed the basis of who we interviewed.
"CAPP stakeholders" was broken down into specific audiences that we could learn more about. These audiences included:
- CAPP members (oil and gas companies and their employees)
- Media (journalists, analysts, etc.)
- Government (Members of Parliament, aides, etc.)
- The general public (anyone who might be interested in oil and gas issues across Canada)
Interviews are critical to the success of any project partly because we hear about the real world stories that form the basis of interaction design decisions we make later. We started the interview phase of the project with CAPP employees and then interviewed external audience representatives (i.e. journalists, government employees, etc.)
Our interview participants had a wide range of experience with CAPP. Some folks visited the website frequently to check resources such as the statistical handbook, while others had never been to the website or interacted with CAPP. One challenge we had during the interviews was figuring out who the "general public" was exactly. Due to time limitations we did not interview any members of the general public, and instead relied on the previous research conducted by CAPP to represent this audience group. During the next activity (card sort), we focused on recruiting friends and family to ensure that we had an adequate focus on members of the general public.
This was a fascinating project from beginning to end — and so far, I have only described the beginning! Check out the site and let us know what you think!