After several months of preparing and curating data for our online bibliographic tool, last week we were excited to see the new design for the GUI produced by EDINA’s resident designer Jackie Clark.
Throughout the development process we’ve been working with a functional but deliberately sparse interface which shows results in a simple table alongside filter terms. While this has been entirely fit for purpose during checking and testing phases, it shows its database origins very clearly, it’s quite text heavy and requires lots of clicking through lists and tables to get to publication entries. As we’ve become aware during the development, this has implications in terms of navigation, as you need to retrace your steps by going back in your browser, and it has meant that comparing between different searches is not easy. We’ve discussed various options to resolve these issues, considering for example whether to introduce a ‘shopping basket’ feature that enables you to collect records together for comparison.
These usability concerns were on our mind when considering potential designs. The new design was selected to solve some of these problems for us, i.e. by simply separating out the search terms from the results. As well as skinning the tool in the same design as our blog, Jackie has moved the long filter lists into a more visually appealing table design which allows scrolling within boxes rather than within the page.
This means that you can always see the chosen filters from the same view, making your search parameters very clear, which wasn’t the case in the development version. In addition, the new tab system means that each search opens a separate results tab, so your search page remains with your parameters within view and you can toggle back and forth between the search and the results if you want to check these. In addition, if you want to compare the results of a number of searches, you can run the search several times keeping the results tab produced each time open, and then toggle between these. An added benefit of this design is that it thins out the content, giving more space on the results page. We’re now considering how best to use this space, considering what information we might add in order to best enhance the records. It’s a great example of how a good design can create elegant solutions to functional problems.
We’re looking forward to launching the new interface via this website in a few weeks’ time, so watch this space!