We reinvented a web app that connects technology resources to the University of Illinois researchers who need them.

CHALLENGE

Research IT wanted to create a tool that bridges the gap between researchers on campus and the myriad of technology resources available to them.

OUR APPROACH

The first version of the web application launched April 2018 and focused on its core purpose — aggregating and displaying research technology resources from around campus.

With the foundational technology in place, we kicked off work on version 2 in spring 2019 with the goal of determining how to make the application more useful to researchers by guiding them, connecting them, and empowering them.

To further understand how researchers were finding technology help and to hone in on where we could introduce improvements, we interviewed faculty and staff researchers from across campus and observed them interacting with version 1 of the web application.

The Outcome

New structure

Interviews and feedback revealed that while all the pieces were there, they weren’t always easy to find. We re-organized search results by type, so that users can scan the thousands of results more efficiently.

New tools

We worked with Research IT to create a data finder tool that helps researchers narrow down backup and data resources based on their needs.

A screenshot of the Research IT data finder

New Services

We highlighted the unique consulting services Research IT provides by enhancing the About pages and homepage, and adding a Get Help section. 

Two screenshots of the Research IT new help page and homepage

Author interface 

We improved and expanded on the content import and authoring processes for site administrators. Built in the Symfony PHP framework, the architecture was flexible enough to support radical changes to the organization of information from version 1 to  version 2 without compromising the author experience. 

A screenshot of the Research IT author interface.

SUMMARY

Through research, iteration and collaboration with Research IT, we identified how to make the application more useful for researchers and launched an expanded and improved version in August 2019. The Research IT team is now busy gathering feedback to inform new ideas for enhancing this important tool.

Back to All Work

Interested in working with us?
CONTACT US