The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is the global trade association of the shopping center industry, spanning over 100 countries. ICSC came to VSA in need of a redesign that would cement the organization as the voice of the retail real estate industry.
The goal was to align 25+ client stakeholders behind a shared vision and launch an entirely reimagined member experience for a 75,000-strong professional community.
The site was a sprawling, 10,000-page, 9-tab experience challenged by an overly complex information architecture, a confusing and structurally inconsistent experience, and behind-the-times branding.
Our first and most important challenges would be to build alignment and buy-in from nearly 30 stakeholders from different parts of the business.
we started out by asking: What's one word to describe what you envision for the new ICSC.org?
Our discovery research consisted of 30 stakeholder interviews, a user survey, conversations with folks in the field, and a competitive review.
User personas were developed by the UX team early in the process in order to help summarize and communicate our research insights. They were intended to generalize common behaviors, needs and pain points.
We needed to establish that the new website would not be for them, or for us, but for our users.
Knowing that 80% of our users used 20% of the site we decided to focus on 3 key areas considering their real-life workflows: Thought leadership, ICSC events, and it’s member directory.
After sorting through what amounted to 10,000 pages of content, and reducing the IA to a lean, 5-tab (down from 9 tabs), audience-focused menu, the goal was to reduce the amount of choice and make it easy for visitors to understand their options before diving deeper.
From there, we began mapping out the information design of these key areas of the site through collaborative sketch sessions.
UX translated our sketches into wireframes for different target device sizes, and as a team we planned to refine and resolve responsive behaviors in browser.
From a UX perspective, the goal was to establish a clean, app-like look and feel through the use of generous white space and large, touch-friendly UI controls.
From there we began building out our atomic design system defining grids, typography, and basic system elements before building modules and pages.
We focussed on a clean responsive, and component-based framework, along with a consolidated content strategy to improve overall engagement.
I teamed up with our technology and UX team to define an approach for the build. We recommended using Pattern Lab to create a robust atomic design system to enable us to efficiently build.
Pattern lab allowed us to preview and troubleshoot components across different device sizes, plus capture them in a single library. This would enable the web and application architecture to stay up to date over time, and would give ICSC greater flexibility in assembling new pages.
Animating and prototyping different interactions helped communicate UX and design decisions more clearly, not only to stakeholders, but to internal teams and developers.
The design utilized a look that was minimal with a large primary use of white and black, and pops of red to drive focus and signal action. Imagery was applied sparingly to avoid clutter and help create moments of impact.
The new ICSC.org launched in October 2017, and was unveiled to attendees at their NY National Dealmaking in December.
So far the results have shown returning visitors increased by over 160% after the redesign of the site and mobile usage went up over 9x, eclipsing desktop usage, with the launch of the new site.