Faster scientific websites through reusability

Growing an EMBL-EBI solution into a Visual Framework for the life sciences

Building a website is easy. Building a good website is trickier. Building that good site quickly is hard. And if you want a beyond-hard challenge, also match your organisation’s look, feel and brand requirements. Continue reading “Faster scientific websites through reusability”

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”

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”

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”

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”