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KDLT Research & Design


How might USAID communicate best practices on preparing global communities to withstand crisis?
Stakeholder Goals
During several workshops we gathered information about USAID’s knowledge of the ResilienceLinks target audience. An analysis of similar websites was also conducted to see how ResilienceLinks could be distinct in the resilience web landscape.
Workshop Artifacts
RFS stakeholder map
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Audience analysis
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Landscape Analysis of similar websites
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Feature criteria comparison of similar websites
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Identifying Key Audiences
ResilienceLinks target audiences were identified from workshops and independent desktop research. Several personas were created to give an example of the types of users that ResilienceLinks would likely benefit. Personas were updated as the team gathered data from key informant interviews.
After establishing key audiences for this website, we were able to conduct outreach within the USAID network to interview individuals that matched our personas.
(Link to audience research page)
Heuristic Evaluation
In order to gather rapid feedback on the current site experience, we conducted a heuristic evaluation with Bixal colleagues as participants. This is exercise to find common, large usability problems on a website. It was also useful to do while we were in the process of recruit user interview participants.
Legacy Homepage
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Site Heuristics
Does the site use a simple and flexible style guide?
Is the design consistent throughout the site?
Does the design communicate the site's purpose and what the user can accomplish?
Are there consistent action items across the site for users that are easy to remember?
Does the site follow accessibility practices to ensure all people can use the service?
Do users have clear information about where they are in the site during tasks?
Can users exit and return later to complete tasks easily?
Are error messages expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely to indicate a problem and constructively suggest a solution?
Heuristic Insights
All participants felt that the site did not effectively communicate its purpose and what the user can accomplish there.
Action items across the site are inconsistent and hard to find. All participants struggled to describe actions a user could take on the site. They felt calls to action were inconsistent in their placement throughout the site and hard to remember.
Users don’t have clear information about where they are in each step of task completion. Three out of four participants complained about the inaccuracy of breadcrumbs, making it difficult to know where they were in the site.

Key Informant Interviews (KIIs)
These are qualitative in-depth user interviews with people who reflect our target audiences. These community experts, with their particular knowledge and understanding, can provide insight on the nature of problems and give recommendations for solutions.
KII Participant Locations
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What does Resilience mean to you?
“Resilience to me is the capacity to be self-sustaining. To resist shocks or crisis and to just rebuild with what we have on hand. It allows us to try and keep swimming rather than drowning.” - NGO Director, Senegal

"Definition of resilience handed to me from the Rockefeller foundation is not sector specific. It represents the ability to adapt and respond to shocks and stressors however they may arise".
- Implementing Partner, USA

"We work in environmental areas where resilience is seen as ability to bounce back from natural disaster or some other kind of interruption."
- Mission Staff, Dominican Republic

"Resilience relates to impact and outcomes beyond the end of a project"
- Implementing partner, Bangladesh

"Resilience of small businesses in Bangladesh during COVID is a good example because they recovered quickly from the shock."
- Implementing Partner, Bangladesh

"Resilience is the way a person experiences a situation of hardship and continues living their life."
- NGO employee, Tanzania

"Resilience to me is being able to survive and thrive in the midst of environmental contexts."
- Implementing Partner, Ethiopia

"Resilience for me involves humanitarian assistance with below subsistence level populations to help them build their own capacity."
- Mission Staff, Ethiopia

"Resilience is not just the capacity to bounce back from shocks and stressors. It is a manifestation of socioecological systems (people and environment) and how they work. People are always managing their environments to specific ends despite the fact that the environment is unpredictable."
- Researcher, USA

"Resilience is the ability to absorb, persist, adapt, transform in the face of shocks and stressors. An earthquake is going to happen, that is a given, but what we can control is how we equip people and communities to withstand that shock."
- Program Director, Switzerland
Challenges at Work
Participants were asked about the challenges they face at their jobs and in the international development field. In order to summarize the general challenges, a mind map of their responses to the question was created below. Here are the top level findings:
Staff in the field (implementing partners, Mission staff, NGO staff) are spread thin and struggle with time management, especially with the remote work environment due to COVID-19.
Access to high quality internet connection varies depending on the location of field staff.
General complaints about bureaucracy and the slow pace of change within USAID and other donor organizations.
Communication of knowledge and best practices between development practitioners and populations being served has several challenges.
Development jargon overcomplicates the message
Lack of communication between different projects results in duplication of work.

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Resource Preferences
Participants were also asked about their preferred resources they seek out to further knowledge around their field of work.
Users have limited time and bandwidth to consume long resources. The majority of KII participants stated that they seek out quick and practical resources to help with their jobs.
USAID and international development jargon makes it difficult to communicate with local partners and populations being served in the field.
The internet is often unreliable for professionals in the field. However, Americans abroad typically have better access than local partners.
Duplication of work resulting in wasted time and resources is seen as a major problem with implementing partners and NGO staff.

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Card Sort Exercise
During interview sessions, participants also completed a card sort exercise. This is a categorization exercise in which participants divides site content into different groups based on their understanding of those concepts. The findings of this exercise can be used to inform site architecture and content hierarchy. Optimal Workshop was used as the tool to execute and capture user data during the card sort.
High Level Findings
Users largely thought of Resilience through four major lenses: Environment, Economic, Social and Government.
Many topics within resilience are extremely interconnected and users preferred to label them as "cross-sectoral".
Content & Analytics Audit
The first phase of technical content discovery consisted of a comprehensive audit of all content and content identification. The team categorized and compartmentalized the entire catalog of content on the site that included identifying paths, types, taxonomies, attachments, topics and media. We then analyzed the content using ROT analysis principles, making recommendations on accuracy, quality and value. Our auditing tool also provided insights for content that is being linked and tracked from third-party sources, which we we've noted in the reviews.
We followed up the content audit with snapshot looks at the site analytics and some preliminary organic search testing to evaluate the performance of site access and attribution for site traffic. We then used these insights, combined with our findings from the audit, to develop a content priority matrix and recommendations for next steps based on qualitative content value.
Top Content
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Visual Preference Testing
Visual preference testing is a research method that allows potential users to review and provide feedback on a website's visual direction. Test participants viewed a prototype containing the new color palette, fonts, and photography.
Brand Guide

Participant Information
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Brand and design
"This image of a Maasai person looks like someone from my country, Tanzania, so I feel a connection to that."

"I like the photography it's really beautiful and goes nicely with the colors you chose."

"I used to live in Africa so and this photography really highlights the beauty of the continent."

"The colors and images definitely point to inspiring people to help the world."
Mission, vision, and tagline
"I like the way the mission statement explains the organization's purpose. It's very clear, short, but straight to the point."

"Creating communities stronger than crisis, wow that's a nice strong statement."

"These statements are so useful for me so I can understand how this website started."

"I can see that the vision this organization has is to have communities thrive and how you do that is through the mission by preparing people for the unpredictable."
Information Architecture
In order to validate the new site architecture for ResilienceLinks, the team created a test to be taken by potential site users and USAID stakeholders. The purpose of this test was to see how well people could navigate the new site structure with prompted tasks. We also included follow up questions about certain terms used in the new architecture to better understand how they are interpreted by users.
Early Site Maps
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Test Insights
Insight: Many users thought the term "Building Resilience" contained resources that would help them with their jobs. This resulted in fewer users choosing the "Learn and Share" as a first step on "how to" task associated with applying resilience to their work.
Changes: For the next iteration of the site's architecture, "Building Resilience" may be a better heading for the "Learn & Share" section, which contains actionable resources. The use of "Building Resilience" for content describing what is currently "sources of resilience" may be reconsidered. Other labels previously considered include: Impact Areas, Approaches, Intervention Areas.
Insight: Many users assumed recordings of past events would also fall under resources related to learning.
Changes: "Past Events" can remain under the broader heading of "Events." We just need to add past event recordings to resources section as well.

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