University of Washington Office of Research
An optimized academic research portal
We created a seamless tool for scholars to conduct groundbreaking research
University of Washington, a premier public research institution, supports academics on the cutting-edge of research. But the previous research website portal was difficult to use, forcing academics to spend their time navigating rather than shifting the landscapes of their respective fields. UW hired us to research what other competitors were doing, understand the problem from users’ and stakeholders’ perspectives, and deliver a reorganized digital experience that addressed the legacy system’s shortcomings.
We partnered to create a website that more effectively organizes research resources for academics, providing seamless access to information about proposals, interdisciplinary collaborations, and grants. Our goal was to focus on key areas that would expedite the logistics of getting a research project moving: creating streamlined site navigation, intuitive page structure, and easy resource location.
A strategic workshop to gather context
We took part in a workshop on the UW campus, working side-by-side with the UW user experience and research team. During the course of the day-long collaboration, we defined critical problems, gathered user feedback, and organized existing site content into logical categories.
It was an essential step to creating a site that corresponded to the target user’s mental model, rather than making assumptions and falling into some of the same traps that the legacy system did.
Leveraging a familiar framework
The UW development team used WordPress, and drawing our extensive knowledge and experience, we recommended optimized templates and integrations to make the site as efficient as possible. After consulting on the technology stack, we designed and tested prototypes to verify our assumptions and uncover usability issues.
Wireframe and mockup prototypes were grounded by data and insights gathered during the discovery phase. We delivered to the UW development team, allowing them to redesign the research portal, an experience optimized for its end-users.
A timely delivery
The project moved quickly given the need to launch the site to support scholars during the academic year. We tested prototypes with users and delivered designs to the UW development team with confidence in the revamped, streamlined user experience.
The initial workshop proved to be essential: a means of gathering context to proceed with confidence and deliver the designs according to UW’s rigorous schedule.