Embl.org: From so simple a beginning…

For the past two years, the content, digital and design teams in EMBL’s Communications group have been collaborating closely with the IT team in Heidelberg and the Web Development team at EBI to prepare the way for a new website – embl.org – for the whole organisation.

Most of this work has so far been preparatory, consulting with various groups and departments around EMBL for help and feedback on design, content and structure as we put in place processes, databases, frameworks and designs to prepare for the new site. It has been a true team effort.

Today, we have reached an important milestone for the project: we can present to you the first page.

That’s right. Just one, single, webpage. Continue reading “Embl.org: From so simple a beginning…”

Introducing the Digital Projects Dashboard

This is not the Digital Projects Dashboard. This is just a dashboard (Image: Pixnio)

After a relaxing end-of-year break, the digital team is back in Heidelberg and raring to get started on our many projects. This week we built a dashboard to help us to keep track of the scope, status and dependencies of our nearly two-dozen projects. Continue reading “Introducing the Digital Projects Dashboard”

To affinity, and beyond!

Here’s a pretentious piece of jargon for you: “Affinity sorting.” It means “Writing stuff on post-it notes, sticking them on the wall and then grouping similar ones together.” And it’s a hugely useful exercise for prioritising content on websites.

Last week, Mark and I ran affinity sorting exercises with teams from Human Resources and Courses and Conferences to try to understand their needs for the new embl.org. Embl.org needs to serve all departments and groups at EMBL. The aim is to empower teams to look after their own sections of the website and to keep their content fresh and updated. And it’s a chance not only to improve content, but also the systems and processes behind the website. So we’re meeting people early in the project, and trying hard to understand their priorities.

But first, a tangent about shipping containers. Continue reading “To affinity, and beyond!”

Landing pages: Sprinting towards embl.org

Recently we did a two-week sprint with Jon, Peter, Maged and Liang of the EBI web team. They helped us set up the technical infrastructure to prepare the first landing pages for the new embl.org.

What are the landing pages again?

Landing pages are the beginnings of the new EMBL website, embl.org. They will serve as a single place for users to find a mix of aggregated and editorially curated content on a particular topic.

For example, the top search terms on Google analytics for EMBL over the past year include the words “jobs”, “press”, “pepcore” and “cancer”. Some of these have pages on the current website, others do not. The aim of the landing pages is to provide: a place for these searches to land, a better experience for the user searching for a particular topic, and a starting point for a deeper journey through embl.org. Continue reading “Landing pages: Sprinting towards embl.org”

On taxonomy

Indulge me, if you will, with a lengthy zoological introduction. 

In the 1700s, the Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus devised a system for classifying all the organisms of the Earth. Each species received a unique name comprising two parts, following Latin grammatical construction.

The mice in the EMBL labs? Mus musculus (Latin for “muscular mouse”). The frogs? Xenopus laevis (meaning “strange foot not-heavy”). My personal favourite at EMBL: Ambystoma mexicanum (“Mexican blunt mouth”), the axolotl. Continue reading “On taxonomy”

Joining the design sprint

I’ve spent my first month at EMBL settling in, meeting talented people, and working out how the various digital projects that StratComm has planned will fit together.

We have a whole host of digital objectives – revamping embl.org, improving the intranet, fixing Search, creating a unified theme for EMBL websites, making EMBL services easier to navigate, to name a few – and they overlap and interact in various ways.

A key part of building a clear digital identity for EMBL will be robust, consolidated branding.

This month I was lucky enough to spend time on a Design Sprint led by EMBL Art Director Tabea Rauscher. Tabea leads the design team here in Heidelberg, and works closely with EBI Senior Graphic Designer Spencer Phillips and Web Design Architect Ken Hawkins. Continue reading “Joining the design sprint”