Japanese embassy website redesign

The brief was to redesign London’s Japanese embassy website, with a focus on Information Architecture. I chose to focus on the consular services pages for Japan’s nationals in the UK.

To better understand the user, domain expert interviews were conducted with four non-European participants on the subject of embassies in the context of living overseas.

After a first iteration of the domain model was created, I carried out a content inventory of other embassy websites to confirm no major omissions. This final model was used to help understand how information is linked and the kinds of user interactions that might occur.


Domain map

With a clearer understanding of the domain and website requirements, elements and pages were considered and an (online) open card sort was carried out with ten participants. This helped clear up several elements of the site structure but was mainly used to improve labelling.

Tree testing with additional participants was used to refine the final sitemap.


A number of different navigations are used to satisfy the different expectations of the diverse user group.  To allow more focus on content, the final design features an ‘inverted L’ navigation (a horizontal global navigation bar at the top and a contextual, secondary navigation of the left). ‘Breadcrumbs’ are used to indicate a user’s current location on the website. Search with Autocomplete gives instant results (using recognition over recall to facilitate the search).

Unlike many websites, the embassy homepage (shown as Wireframe 0.0) does not need to clutter the page with pictures and advertising and can focus entirely on content. Therefore all the primary and secondary level menu options are shown on the page, whilst keeping a focus on a clean, simple aesthetic design. The majority of pages are within 2 clicks of the homepage.

Evaluation was carried out with the original ‘domain experts’; click testing was done using scenarios and tasks, using the mocked-up wireframes. This confirmed findability and discoverability were good, labelling and parent/child taxonomies were clear, navigation was quick and straightforward. However, a few areas for further consideration were identified.

This user journey envisages the different ways a user might find information about Japanese public holidays. It reflects the number of pages, steps and decision points a typical user might take.

User Journey