UX lead for a Digital Humanities Research site

Europeana provides access to over 40 million items from galleries, libraries, archives and museums around Europe. The Europeana Research project wanted to find out what opportunities there were for research communities who may want to use the available content.

Understanding

I facilitated a kickoff meeting with various internal and external stakeholders, to find out who they thought the product would be for, what problem the product would solve, and how Europeana Research could provide the solution.

I asked all of the participants to fill in an elevator pitch, and after collecting the information ‘who’, ‘why’, and ‘what’, I had them discuss and vote on the most important requirements that could make Europeana Research a success.

Kickoff meeting, showing elevator pitches and voting
Europeana Research kickoff meeting

Planning

I then planned out the next steps for the product, creating a UX Plan, and a Timeline, to show the activities to be performed, the output, and the people involved.

UX plan and timeline
UX plan and project timeline

Research

I used the information from the kickoff meeting to create proto-personas, which were in turn used to locate researchers in the digital humanities for interviewing. The key findings from the kickoff meeting also helped with formulating the questions, focusing on the key areas that were mentioned.

I then interviewed four participants in person, in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. The findings were then documented, and the personas were made more concrete.

Meredith and Paul, the Europeana Research personas
Meredith and Paul, the Europeana Research personas

Comparative Analysis

Parallel to the research, I also performed a Comparative Analysis on various websites that offered similar solutions to the problem that Europeana Research was trying to solve. I rated these websites on various areas to uncover the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

The process was to walk through the product, evaluate the areas, and rank these areas from 0-3, with 0 meaning that the feature was not there, and 3 meaning that it was of high quality.

Comparative Analysis of a number of research sites
Comparative Analysis of a number of research sites

Research Results

The research found that Researchers in the Digital Humanities needed access to the core content, something that Europeana cannot provide. For example, researchers wanted to plot data on an Ngram viewer, or search through full text within newspaper archives. While some of this will be possible in the future, it was something that could not be offered right now.

“A research question could be to look at the emergence of musicals, it would be interesting to know how it spread over Europe, in British newspapers, advertisements, reviews, comments about the new format… when did that hit Paris… Berlin… then you’d look at local newspapers to see that format translated to other countries”.

Wireframes

Because of the change of focus, it was decided to go straight into wireframing the website using the same design language and templates defined in other Europeana products.The stakeholders performed a walk-through via the interactive prototype. However, as deadlines beckoned the user testing performed on the same templates was deemed good enough, and no further testing at this time was scheduled.

Annotated wireframe for Europeana Research
Annotated wireframe for Europeana Research

Wireframes were annotated where required.

View the interactive prototype here

Results

The website will launch in the coming months (as of March 2015). I have advised to iterate the design once more features are available, to perform user testing on the product, and to keep track of analytics to ensure that good data influenced decisions are being made.

Europeana Research home page
Europeana Research Home Page
Europeana Research list page
Europeana Research list page

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