Polar Bears International is a polar bear conservation organization dedicated to saving polar bears and their habitat. They have been our client for a decade. PBI wanted a redesign of their site for the 2012 polar bear season (last-quarter of the year). This time around we were going to put the focus on user experience, specifically findability. Naturally, we had many great ideas.

We took the project through an involved content strategy and information architecture process that included information architect and author Peter Morville. Peter wrote the book on the practice of information architecture. Together, we targeted many areas of the site for improvement.

First, by consolidating content and killing off old stuff that was no longer relevant or needed, we kept the topical focus tight. Next, to ease user understanding and bolster our search engine strategy, we relabelled and restructured navigation. PBI’s traffic sported strong mobile numbers so we built a responsive layout, one that seamlessly scaled all media and was optimized for one-handed browsing. We even designed the standard size site with touch browsing in mind, using large hit areas for those of us with sausage fingers. Site-wide search was vastly improved by implementing the super search server Apache Solr. Finally, we used faceted navigation techniques to bring popular topics to the surface, preventing the user from needing to dig and dig.

Oh, and we rebuilt their donation processing system and web store. Did we mention this was an involved project? We have seen fantastic feedback from users and administrators, both telling us our efforts were highly successful. The site has seen a 90% increase in mobile visitors and the average organic search position for the top 10 keywords has increased by 69%. A key benchmark for improvement, increasing traffic to the home page of the site vs. interior pages, improved significantly. PBI saw a 32% increase in traffic to their home page.

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