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”

Unshackling content, and their authors

Knot what the user had in mind. Credit: Flickr user Rebecca Dongallo

A Content Hub for better content at EMBL

Even organisations of modest size have web presences where content is hard to reuse and compromised editorial experiences. Even a robust CMS and internal development team is not enough.

Continue reading “Unshackling content, and their authors”

ESOF 2018: big science, little me

To put it simply, EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) is big. At the 2018 conference in Toulouse, there were more than 150 panel sessions, 200 outreach events and 4000 people attending. I’ll admit, I was a little overwhelmed. I’d spent a good chunk of my childhood (and adult life, if I’m honest) wishing to be Hermione Granger with a time-turner, but this time I had to accept that I’m not – I can’t be in two places at once. I was going to have to make some decisions about where to go, what to see and who to meet. With this blog post I’ll give a rundown of the decisions I made that turned ESOF into the unforgettable experience that it was. Continue reading “ESOF 2018: big science, little me”

Hello my name’s Patrick

Hello world,

A selfie of Patrick
Hello world (and hello Emma)

My name is Patrick Müller and I joined the EMBL crew as a Trainee in July. Before my time here, I was doing a PhD in physics in Berlin. After a year of shooting my laser at stuff, I quit, turned to science journalism and did an apprenticeship in Hamburg.

In the StratCom team, my main objectives will be (German) outreach tasks with Verena, and press releases with Iris. Besides that, I am into social media, pop culture and cute animals. Nice to meet you.

Building your blog

A little while ago now I ran a blogging workshop in Rome for writers on their “On brains & beer” blog. But while we tailored the work there to the people in Rome, a lot of the things we discussed are more universal. So in the spirit of openness, this is some of what we covered. If you are at EMBL and would like a similar workshop, please let me know. Continue reading “Building your blog”

Under construction: workshop on working with journalists

Phones that never stop ringing, desks full of press clippings, and interview notes spread all around. These may not be the first things you picture when you think of EMBL, but there’s one EMBL office where you can find all of these: the EMBL Press Office. But besides working with journalists, we are also here to work with you, EMBL researchers!

There’s a lot to be gained from media work including new skills, a more prominent public profile and experience in explaining your work to different audiences in an elegant and engaging way. Who knows? Working with journalists might even help you explain your job to your parents once and for all.

Continue reading “Under construction: workshop on working with journalists”

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”