Thursday, 23 July 2009

Developing the Bluepages

The BRII project is very much on track.

I finished the Stakeholder and User needs Analysis. Will be ready for distribution soon.

Ben has been working on the development of the foundations of the Research Information Infrastructure (RII). He has also created an online store for the vocabularies resulting from the BRII project. The vocab site has been given a single, central location in Oxford and now consitutes an institutional service.

Anusha is working on the harvesting of data for the RII. At the moment she is dealing with data about the structure of the University (a very complicated task!) which should form the basis of the RII. I will meet with her soon to talk about this as we have to document data and process audit. She has also promised to give me a technical overview of her work so far so I can post it in this blog.

Monica is working on a mock-up of the Bluepages, one of the proposed outputs of the BRII project. As part of the development process we are planning a series of user-test sessions with a selection of users from the University. Monica is following an iterative approach to development. She will produce a first, basic version of the Bluepages which will be tested by users. She will then work on their feedback to produce an improved version. We will do a few rounds of testing until users and Monica feel satisfied with the product.

This is what Monica says:

After a few meetings and brainstorming with the team, many layout considerations were made and an initial timeline for the Bluepages was created. We were able to gather enough information about what data to include and the website's behaviour after data harvesting. Now we have a good idea about the direction we want to go with the Bluepages.

The outcomes of the meeting include a definition of the look and feel of the website and a list of many possible features that could be included depending on time of development and resources available. I will create a mockup with a few screens that will represent the initial Browse by People and Profiles section of the website. (See pictures below.)

Click on pictures to view larger versions.

The following is a list of layout considerations and ideas:

General design ideas
  • Have a 'web 2.0' style of page, where simplicity and boldness will capture user's attention
  • Introduction paragraphs that tells what the website does (purpose) before we show how and why is good for the user.
  • attention map: what is more important bolder/bigger, less important/less used items smaller
  • fewer columns, 2 or 3 max
  • "share this" button including email friend
  • download as PDF
  • "shopping basket" to add profiles/links to be printed later (as a list of 'things' the user wants to keep)
  • enable links in profiles to: people with same interests (clicking in keywords), people in same projects, funder's page, project's page, etc (we have to decide which one links to what)
  • collaborators sections in profiles (articles written together, include projects too?)
  • RSS?
  • logos of University, BRII, JISC (bottom right), any other?
  • quick search on top
  • identification that is a BETA with a badge/star
  • different tabs for different areas: Browse (active from the homepage), Advanced search, How to contribute, Add your data, About, Help (others???)
  • Welcome blurb and max of 3 short paragraphs that can say WHAT IS THIS ABOUT, HOW TO USE and BENEFITS/Why
  • "Browse by" area with buttons (icons too maybe?)
  • Research Activity button will have a 'tooltip' type of baloon that will show what includes in Research activity, we can also add this info on Help page.
  • "slider" showing groundbreaking research
  • slider with random profiles ???
People's profiles
  • Name
  • Affiliations
  • Roles
  • Research topics/interests/keywords
  • Themes - controlled vocab/top level
  • Projects or other Research Activities -> link to the projects page inside blue pages
  • Funder -> link to funder page inside blue pages
  • Websites: department/college/personal page in each of the previous/"personal" personal page
  • Publications -> link to publications if available
  • Source of information
  • Report problem/correct your information button
  • Project
  • People
  • Department
  • Subject
We estimate to have this finished in the next few weeks. This initial design will serve for the first tests and useful to evaluate the speed at which I can develop the next items on the list.

About the user tests

User tests will start as soon as Monica gives us the green light. We would like to gather small groups in sessions that should last between 30 to 45 minutes. When possible we would have the sessions in our base (Osney One). However we are prepared to visit our testers in their own office. Testers will be asked to perform a particular set of tasks and give us their opinion. We will gather feedback from the users by observing their behaviour, from user notes and comments in the debriefing. Group testing and refinements will repeat until a good representation of the future users could test the website and the corrections stop/are reduced to a minimum

Now I am looking for testers. So if you work in the University of Oxford AND you are curious and want to see what we are doing AND/OR you are interested in participating in a user test please email me!

Note: you may have noticed that I am using the word Bluepages in this post instead of Blue Pages, we are thinking on what would be the best way to call them. What do you think? Print this post

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