Lara Lee

Optimizing the SpaceCom homepage for sponsor partnerships

My Role

UI Designer

Agency

CSG Creative

Year

2022

Summary

Isolated CGI image of the ISS floating

I worked with SpaceCom to revamp their expo website in 2023. Stakeholders requested minimal changes but also revealed registrations were lower than expected. Stakeholder talks and my own audit suggested users had a difficult time navigating the large amount of content. I recommended larger changes, but my client had little time and budget. Content strategy and openness to user research were additional challenges. I learned that “baby steps” are important. Ultimately, I balanced stakeholders’ wants to maximize limited resources with users’ needs to boost confidence in the solution. I was proud to build my client’s empathy for users and interest in further research.

Browse the case study

Background

Client: National Trade Productions, Inc. Events (NTP Events) 

Stakeholders: Global Commercial Space Conference & Exposition (SpaceCom)

The Global Commercial Space Conference & Exposition, also known as SpaceCom, is the leading annual event supporting professionals in the commercialization and business of space. The event connects private and public sectors enabling new, lucrative opportunities in space-earth ventures, advancing the business of space, and protecting the planet.

SpaceCom is managed by National Trade Productions, Inc. (NTP) Events in partnership with NASA and the Canaveral Council of Technical Societies (CCTS).

The SpaceCom website is the primary source of info for the latest event developments. Here, users read about the event’s educational and commercial opportunities. They may also register to attend as an attendee, exhibitor, or sponsor to make full use of SpaceCom’s networking and promotional advantages.

Therefore, the SpaceCom website is the best place to foster these relationships and create partnerships to further earth-space advancement.

Challenge

How might we make it easier for attendees and exhibitors to join the trade show from the info-packed homepage?

Although the stakeholders themselves were really pleased with last year’s design, stakeholder interviews suggested users had a difficult time navigating the website’s vast array of content. Their registration numbers were lower than they expected.

My own initial evaluation of the current homepage, a landing page that promotes registration, supported that conclusion. The homepage looked visually confusing and overwhelming with content. It lacked clear direction to the registration primary CTAs.

I must optimize the SpaceCom homepage design to help prospective attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors find and use SpaceCom’s networking and promotional opportunities on the website.

The challenge this year was that stakeholders preferred minimal updates to last year’s design, but I needed to convince the client that the homepage really needed larger changes to make it user-friendly.

Team

Me, UI Designer for CSG

Annalisa Cardarelli, Senior Account Executive at CSG, for SpaceCom

Lisa Staszewski, Marketing Director at NTP, for SpaceCom

Tools

Platforms

Figma • Maze

Deliverables

Hi-fi wireframes for 2x landing pages: Home and Attend

Remote usability testing

Process

Evaluating the current homepage

Both client and stakeholders liked 2022’s homepage design and requested minimal changes to this version to build 2023’s homepage. However, the client also admitted registration rates were lower than expected.

Because the client wanted to keep most of the 2022 design, I risked copying over bad usability patterns that might have hurt registrations into the 2023 design. So, I needed to identify those patterns before I could improve them.

Therefore, I evaluated the current homepage for the most severe usability issues that might have caused the decreases in registration.

I identified a lot of areas for improvement. Firstly, the multitude of fonts, odd visual divisions, and lack of white space makes the content difficult to skim-read. Secondly, many different CTAs compete for attention.

I observed:

  • EX#1. Several different headline fonts and alignments
  • EX#2. Sharp background changes within sections of the same content
  • EX#3. Text-heavy content with little white space
  • EX #4. Inconsistent visual treatments between clickable vs. static elements
  • EX #5. Several competing CTAs

I concluded that users would likely find this presentation of content very confusing. I hypothesized they might feel bombarded with too many decisions and lack of a clear direction. My 2023 homepage must address these issues.

Advocating for users

I had to balance client wants with user needs, but the client wasn’t convinced users might find their design preferences problematic.

There were moments when the client said they “needed” a black background, or decorative graphics, or more content, or hard sales copy, or a downplay on the primary CTA.

Yet, I proposed that their personal preferences were less effective solutions to the user issues I identified. I instead redirected conversations back to what users might prefer.

I wanted to create more empathy with the users and to clarify what we needed from the homepage UI design.

So, although user research wasn’t included in the schedule or budget, I was scrappy and conducted my own user testing to inform my designs and support my decisions.

Testing the draft UI

Usability testing was necessary because I believed the proposed plan of action would be inefficient at addressing the many findability issues preventing more registrations.

However, neither client nor stakeholder has conducted user research before. Stakeholder interviews revealed a lot of useful insights and general patterns but less on how users felt and behaved.

So I established a baseline for the homepage UI performance to validate assumptions about its usability.

Once stakeholders agreed on an initial homepage design—with only minimal changes to the problematic 2022 design, per their initial request—I ran usability tests on it.

Usability testing asked users to complete two tasks related to SpaceCom’s main business goals…

Increase sponsorship registrations.

Sponsorships help users partner with SpaceCom, gaining promotional advantages in exchange for financially supporting the event.

Click the sponsorship primary CTA.

Please indicate interest in partnering with SpaceCom in exchange for promo opportunities.

Increase sponsorship registrations.

Sponsorships help users partner with SpaceCom, gaining promotional advantages in exchange for financially supporting the event.

Click the sponsorship primary CTA.

Please indicate interest in partnering with SpaceCom in exchange for promo opportunities.

I hypothesized users would have a hard time finding the sponsorship and/or mailing list registration info. Usability testing results supported this:

Task #1: Sponsor CTA
28.75s
average task time · 0% direct success rate · 100% indirect success rate · 100% misclick rate

Task #2: Mailing List CTA
90.1s average task time · 0% direct success rate · 83% indirect success rate · 100% misclick rate

Quote
“I love the top image with the countdown of the event.”

Quote
“I had to think hard on where to go for those buttons. Not very intuitive since eyes are drawn all over the page.”

Quote
“The Contact sales button – IRL I would never click it as the seemed like way too much commitment”

Re-testing a revised UI

I shared the results of the initial testing with the client. While they didn’t want to reduce content, they were open to new placements and minor copywriting changes.

Therefore, I revised the homepage UI, where I:

  • Removed hard sales language from the Sponsor CTA 
  • Added the Sponsor CTA in multiple places, including above-the-fold
  • Minimized secondary CTAs to inline links and transparent backgrounds
  • Incorporated visual storytelling: the user scrolls from outer space, to rocket launch, to rocket construction, to the SpaceCom show floor “where it all began,” and finally read an invite to join the mailing list

I hypothesized users would have a better time finding the sponsorship and/or mailing list registration info. Usability testing showed great improvements:

Task #1: Sponsor CTA
38.6s
average task time · 100% direct success rate · 6% misclick rate

Task #2: Mailing List CTA
20.7s average task time · 50% direct success rate · 25% indirect success rate · 100% misclick rate

Quote
“The hero image & large text [was my favorite part of the page] because it was quick to understand what the event was about”

Quote
“Based on the instructions, I would have expected the heading ‘Sign up to be notified when reg opens’ to be more evergreen but maybe that’s easy to edit seasonally?”

Quote
“It seemed easy [to complete these tasks]. Required some scrolling”

Ultimately, while there’s still room for improvement, even minor UI changes greatly helped users find the registration info.

Results

Users are both finding and finishing the sponsorship registration and the mailing list sign-up much faster now.

Usability testing across two tasks on the final homepage design averaged a 97% reduction in misclick rates and a 75% increase in direct success rate over the initial benchmark.

Additionally, while users took 9.85 seconds longer to complete the Sponsor CTA task, they were much more successful in ultimately completing the task. Users completed the second task, the Mailing List CTA, much faster, going from 90 seconds to completing in 20.

Average Misclick Rate
- 0 %
Average Direct Success Rate
+ 0 %
Average Task Duration
0 %

Conclusion

Many pain points came out of the research. We are now following-up on these pain points with ideation and usability testing:

We launched the homepage design and will continue to iterate on both the attendee and sponsor journeys.

View on Figma

2023 Style Guide

Homepage

Landing Page

Reflections

This UI design proved even minor changes to copy, styles, and layout can greatly improve usability. Users reported they had an easier time finding key information after the redesign.

More notably, this UI design was the client’s first foray into user testing and gathering feedback from real prospective attendees. Much of the user feedback challenged their assumptions about what they thought users wanted.

While the UI design has a lot of room for improvement, I consider it a successful exercise in building empathy for the users.