2017 was a pretty remarkable year for us here at nForm. We did some pretty cool work for some amazing clients, got deeply involved in our professional community, and even found time to have some fun together. Here are some of the highlights of our year:
Solving Problems & Making Stuff
A lot of our work isn’t visible; we are often doing the research and behind-the-scenes work that sets the foundation for successful websites and other digital products. This year we ended up doing our fair share of things like usability assessments and testing, business process research, requirements gathering and digital strategy.
We also had several projects that involved information architecture deep-dives, helping to shape the way users interact with websites and intranets through the development of content strategies and models, metadata schema and sitemaps.
Finally, we had the chance to bring our research work to life through the creation of style tiles, wireframes, design mockups and interactive prototypes.
We produced a lot of work that we’re very proud of this year, but here are a few of our favourites:
Alberta Motor Association – We worked with the AMA to research and design their intranet, the Backyard, structuring it to enable targeting of content to employees based on location and business unit. After developing the information architecture and visual design mock-ups, we used impression testing to validate the site structure with users.
Alberta Heritage and Royal Tyrrell Museum – We got deep into some really interesting research for Alberta’s Museums and Historic Sites, including doing some usability testing, requirements assessments, design recommendations and a CMS evaluation that are now being used to help evolve their new website projects.
EPCOR – We continued our work with long-standing client EPCOR by conducting mobile usability testing for a couple of projects in support of their commitment to being a customer-centric organization.
ATCO – We began work on a couple of intranet projects with ATCO, including information architecture development and validation, workflow design, wireframes and visual design. The sites will launch later this year.
Edmonton Public Schools – Our work with Edmonton Public Schools continued in 2017 with continued research and design for the District’s new amalgamated intranet also scheduled to launch this spring.
Learning and Teaching
In an industry where technology and techniques are constantly changing, it’s critical that we all stay on top of things. nForm already has a culture of constant learning (as evidenced by our amazing library), but this past year we took it to a new level. And where we weren’t absorbing knowledge, we were returning it by teaching others what we know. Here’s some of what we were involved in:
In May we started a bi-weekly series of internal learning sessions called Diving lessons, where someone on the team shares some specialized knowledge with everyone else. This year’s topics included everything from how to choose a CMS to a Sharepoint primer to Devaki’s thesis presentation entitled “Transforming the Homeless Counting Process: Mapping and Re-Designing Systems and Experiences Through Service Design.” These sessions are a great way to cross-pollinate and spread our knowledge around the company.
nForm partnered with IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) for two events in 2017. At the spring IABC/Digital Alberta event: Forward Thinking: Digital & the Customer Experience, Elizabeth and Sheldon presented a talk about practical usability testing, and Johanna facilitated a panel about managing online communities.
Then in the fall we hosted a half-day Intranet Foundations workshop for practitioners looking to improve or redevelop their corporate intranets. We capped the workshop with an IABC panel that evening during which we discussed how to leverage digital tools to ensure successful communications and achieve meaningful employee engagement.
Shortly after that, we sponsored UX Camp Edmonton. Pretty much the whole team attended, and several of us took to the stage. Elizabeth teamed up with Sheldon once again to talk about Everything You (Didn’t Know You) Always Wanted to Know About Usability Testing while Mark and Megan presented on Mobile Usability Testing: The Subtle Art of Professional Lurking.
In November we tried a couple new things. One was running our first webinar entitled Building a Strong Foundation for an Effective and Engaging Intranet. This topic dovetailed nicely with the formation (finally) of Intranets Edmonton – a meetup group for intranet practitioners, professionals, makers, and designers in Edmonton. We hosted our inaugural meet-up on Nov. 20 and plan to meet regularly to discuss intranet-related topics of interest to members. The next event is planned for January 22.
Some of the other events we were involved in during 2017 included:
- Acing Digital – Mark Y. sat on a panel of experts hosted by ACE and Digital Alberta to talk about digital trends.
- BarnRaise Edmonton – Mark Y. and Carson attended this 2-day event to apply design thinking to help solve the problem of child poverty in our city.
- IA Summit 2017 – In May, Megan & Elizabeth flew out to Vancouver to learn from the best in the information architecture space.
- Product Toolkit: Design Thinking Workshop – Carson, Devaki and Lea attended this practical event at Startup Edmonton in the fall.
- In addition, Elizabeth sat on IABC Board of Directors as Director, Member Research and Carson spoke at a couple digital project management conferences and ran a year’s worth of DPM meetups.
Playing & Having Fun
And somehow around all of that we also manage to have a pretty good time…
Thanks to everyone that helped make 2017 such an incredible year. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!