Web Retreat Number 3

Last week, the Digital team – together with a few people from Heidelberg IT – spent a couple of sunny days at EBI with our friends in Web Dev. The aim of this third retreat was to discuss and plan the EMBL.org roadmap and identify projects that would address three core areas: technical infrastructure, web development, and enterprise data. Let’s take a close look at each of these areas. Continue reading “Web Retreat Number 3”

Modern user research: What is it? How is it done? And why?

Digital products are designed for use. Even simple, text-based websites are consumed by users with a task in mind. Mostly they want to find something specific. Sometimes they might want to get in touch with a real person to ask a specific question. Or apply for a job. ‘Just surfing around’, even ‘reading’ requires a user to navigate.

Modern digital design practice has user research at its core. By understanding the needs, motivations and behaviour of our users means that we can design and deliver the best experience to them. However, sometimes, those needs may be in conflict with organisation goals, product roadmaps, or as I indicated just now, perceived wisdom and stereotypes. It’s our business to challenge those falsehoods with insight and evidence from real people to place the user first in our priorities. Continue reading “Modern user research: What is it? How is it done? And why?”

Digital communications update: July/August 2018

Every month, for a few months, we’ve been sending an update to our department an update in a simple format: what we did last month, and what we’re planning to do next month. Of course, as the team grows, this makes for a longer update but we think the detail is important. It helps us paint a picture of the status of projects and how they may connect to others. And often, the detail in our work is where we find common points of pain, or opportunities to collaborate, with our colleagues. Continue reading “Digital communications update: July/August 2018”

Digital comms update: May 2018

We’re trying a new thing.

Every month, I will be letting you know what we’ve done during that month, and what we’re planning next. We’ll also send out an email – let me know if you want to be added to the list.

Why are we doing this? To keep you all up to date! It’s really important that you know what we’re doing and what we’re planning so that we can act on any opportunities. Continue reading “Digital comms update: May 2018”

Digital Release Phases

Delivering digital products used to be about working in a ‘waterfall’ way: first gathering requirements, then writing lengthy technical specifications, drawing Gant charts, estimating delays and expense and so on. Maybe something would get released at some point. Maybe it would be good. But often not. In my experience, this really boils down to one problem: waterfall assumes you know what you don’t know.

The digital landscape shifts quickly. Users engage with content in different ways on different devices. Their expectations of technology changes monthly. To deliver really great digital experiences, therefore, the process needs to map to that speed. It needs to accommodate change – from technology to design. That’s why, in the Strategy & Communications team at EMBL, we’ve been working on documenting digital delivery phases. Continue reading “Digital Release Phases”

Our Design Principles

The design sprint that started a couple of weeks ago began with the team describing their visions, their ideas, and thoughts of what a new EMBL corporate design could look and feel like. Central to describing and understanding why something looks the way it does are our design principles.

Many organisations have design principles to guide their work. They are often described as ‘the star to sail your ship by’; a set of common beliefs and guidelines for a project, product, organisation, or initiative. Some of my favourites are documented here.

Here is our first draft of a set of principles that came out of the last two weeks working together. This is just the start. As per principle #2, we’re showing this as early as we can so we can get feedback and iterate.
Continue reading “Our Design Principles”