Description

ASHA's digital ecosystem is complicated. We have over 80 digital products and services, some of which live on ASHA.org while others live on their own URL. Some are developed and maintained by vendors, some are developed by vendors but maintained in-house, and some are developed in-house. Some are for our primary audience (speech-language pathologists and audiologists), and some are targetted towards other audiences, such as the public, employers, or related professionals.

While the diversity of products and services offered is an asset, their organization is challenging. The evolution of our digital ecosystem has been organic so far, with products and services being added as new needs arise and without standards for how they fit together.

This project was about understanding how other groups with complex digital ecosystems handle their user experience, and developing a strategy for managing ours. The result is a framework for understanding how our digital products and services work together, and creating rules and best practices to follow.

  • September 2015

Research

I did research in two areas to accomplish this project:

  1. What rules other companies seem to follow? How do companies and organziations with a variety of digital tools or websites create brand consistency while maintaining differences across products. Do they all need to follow the exact same style guide? Are there areas where it's OK to be very distinct from each other?
  2. What does our digital ecosystem look like now? What products are more related then others, and what does "related" really mean? Do they have the same audience, or many links between them? Which products should follow our UX and which are allowed not to? And what are the rules that govern these decisions?

Design Strategy

In the end, I presented a framework that is flexible enough to accomodate a host of product needs, but provides enough guidance that each product moving forward will thoughtfully fit into the system.

There are three categories of products:

  • Integrated Products- which are a part of ASHA.org (for example, our career center, or ASHA CEUFind) which are part of our core business.
  • Associated Products - which live outside of ASHA.org because of distinct content or functionality, but are still part of ASHA's core business (for example, CAA.ASHA.org or The ASHA Community.) These products must adhere as closely as possible to our style guide and UX standards, with allowances for vendor issues or specific functionality.
  • And Independent Products - which are products that ASHA supports and maintains, but which are not part of our core business, and do not need to adhere to any of our UX stnadards (for exmaple, the Audiology Quality Consortium.)

Implementation

While all products have been categorized based on a preferred, future state, getting there is a work-in-progress. But, importantly, processes are in place to ensure that we move towards this framework in the future. Each time a new product is proposed or an old one is set for review, we start by having a conversation about its role in ASHA's ecosystem that takes into account its intent, audience, touchpoints to ASHA, brand value and when applicable, legal status. As we move forward, we will continue to work towards this future.