Winqual submission site (2003/2004)
Problem: I was originally hired as a technical writer and I took one look at the site and said "That's not your problem." There was some UI text spread out across the screens, but no overall Help that outlined the processes involved. Support consisted of a guy who answered e-mail, and he saw the same issues so often that he had an autoresponder for the alias that contained answers to those questions. Also, the site acted as a gateway for vendors to get their crash data (because these crashes make us look bad, we want them to fix these bugs), but we did not actively push this data to them. Meanwhile the home page was blank except for a box for your login.
Solution: Lots of information architecture. The site is a web application for making hardware submissions. The submissions have many different steps, you can't save state, and it times out on you. So I took all of the existing UI text, turned them into checklists, and made them available in a Help file. I took the autoresponse, turned that into a FAQ, and put a link to it on the home page. I also added some information push, pointing the users to their top crash buckets or drivers. And I separated the Help from the rest of the application so I could update it without needing to involve dev or rebuild the application.
Results: The number of support issues dropped like a rock (almost in half). Japan and Taiwan were able to localize the Help, providing localized information for hardware vendors their countries. Unfortunately, I don't have data on changes in getting crash data.
Things I would change: Functionally, implementing a content feedback tool would allow us to both improve the quality of the Help, and see what items are at the top of the customer's minds. Further architecture changes would depend on the functional evolution of the site. From a design perspective, I worked on this site ages ago long before you could have a rich interface. While the site is primarily functional and not entertainment-based, I would want to update the look and feel.
Home page (2003):
How I would update, keeping a clean, business-like look:
Error reporting home page (2003):