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!”

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”

Flexibility, discoverability: using metadata for better user journeys

How a controlled and structured vocabulary frees us from focusing where online content lives. Now we can focus on what it’s about.

One of the main goals of the EMBL Corporate Design Sprint 2 is to enable better user journeys on a future pan-EMBL web architecture. One key aspect is content structure and navigation. Continue reading “Flexibility, discoverability: using metadata for better user journeys”

The EMBL Triangle Key: From brand structure to information architecture

Last week I wrote about how the EMBL Corporate Design Sprint distilled a brand map into a brand structure. Today I’m writing the second installation with a post on how we’re using those core principles as the base for our brand information architecture (hereafter: IA) and a unique tool: the EMBL Triangle Key.

Continue reading “The EMBL Triangle Key: From brand structure to information architecture”

Mapping brand structure to support communication

During EMBL’s 43 years it has grown in size, scope and geography. Today EMBL has six sites, many activity areas and focuses on five related but distinct missions.

There is a very strong unifying concept at the core of EMBL. However, during those years of growth a solid conceptual view of how websites, brochures and newsletter relate to each other has not yet been forged and adapted holistically.

Today, products vary in look, format and feel — some of that is for very practical reasons and some reasons are largely attributable to entropy.
Continue reading “Mapping brand structure to support communication”