University of Colorado Web Systems Group Reduces Information Architecture Time by 67%

“ProtoShare reduced our information architecture time from six weeks to two weeks.”

Vijay Patel
Web Systems Manager, University of Colorado

Background

The Housing and Dining Services Department, University of Colorado at Boulder provides food, shelter, and other services to thousands of students, staff, and guests. The Department consists of 14 business units including Dining Services, Residence Life, Finance, and Conference Services. It employs over 1000 full time, part time, and student staff, and serves about 7000 residents. To provide this large community with access to the available resources, the Department’s Web Systems group manages several key websites and applications.

Challenge

More than other departments at CU-Boulder, Housing and Dining Services specializes in supporting new and ongoing business efforts for its many units. For example, Conference Services is a self-funded unit that provides a full range of services for up to 25,000 conference guests each year. As a result, the unit is launching a new business that will house interns over the summer.

The challenge for the CU Web Systems group was to create a website and online application to support the new business. The project goals included prototyping the site architecture, capturing feedback from the Conference Services team, and rapidly iterating to finalize the prototype.

Why Use ProtoShare?

To prototype a new online business presence, the Web Systems group previously followed a process involving card sorting, site mapping in Visio, and wireframing in HTML. “It was a time-consuming process involving multiple meetings, and had no convenient way to quickly incorporate feedback into the prototype.” says Vijay Patel, Web Systems Manager.

The inefficiency of their usual process and the aggressive time-frame of their latest project forced Patel to rethink his approach to prototyping. “In the past we’ve been distracted by fonts, images, and other design issues that slow us down in the beginning. I needed a better way to focus my clients exclusively on the site architecture.” ProtoShare is the ideal solution for this workflow.

Results

Using only the Site Map, the Navigation component, and the Rich Text component, the CU web team quickly generated a fully navigable, low-fidelity prototype in ProtoShare. And with the Review functionality, they easily captured all of the decisions. “My clients preferred meeting in a group to discuss the prototype. With ProtoShare, I can make changes on the fly, and my clients can immediately see the effects of their ideas. When a decision has been made, I can capture it using the Review feature” says Patel. The result has been fewer, shorter, and more productive meetings. “ProtoShare reduced our information architecture time from 6 weeks to 2 weeks. It is the most user-friendly prototyping tool I’ve ever used.”