Category Archives: Website Redesign

Try Our New Digital Collections Site (Now in Beta)

I’m happy to announce the availability of a beta version of our new Digital Collections web interface, the result of the Tripod2 project at Duke. Try it now! It will be available “in beta” for a few weeks at so you can give it a spin and tell us what you think.

Over the next few weeks, we will be tying up loose ends so we can replace the existing site at


34,000 items from 22 digitized collections, cross-searchable in a common index. Includes a wide range of formats: photographs, advertisements, books, sheet music and more.

PDF export for items

Save or print a PDF of any item. Especially useful for our sheet music collections.

Zooming & Panning

Zoom in close on images to see the smaller details or read the fine print.

Continue reading Try Our New Digital Collections Site (Now in Beta)

An increasingly diverse range of formats

As we continue to develop our new discovery system/site for Digital Collections (codename Tripod2), dealing with format complexity is one of our biggest challenges.

One of the library’s major strategic goals is to “increase the Libraries’ capacity to create, acquire, and manage digital scholarly content in an increasingly diverse range of formats.”  We’re doing our part.

Many resource discovery sites have to handle only a single item format. YouTube deals with videos. That’s pretty much it. And it deals with them very, very well. But within our collections, we have a mixed bag:

  • single-page image-centric objects (e.g., photographs or printed ads)
  • single-page text-centric objects with images (e.g., song lyric sheets or broadsides)
  • items with pagination (e.g., sheet music)
  • books comprised of hundreds of pages with accompanying text
  • PDF documents
  • digital videos
  • albums comprised of a series of videos
  • …and more formats on the horizon.

To complicate things further, some of our objects are hosted here at Duke on our servers, but some of them are elsewhere (YouTube, the Internet Archive, iTunes, Flickr, etc.).

We’re aiming to make these items all easily discoverable in our site and to present the best possible interaction options for each of the various item types you will find in the system.

Here’s a sneak peek at how some of our various resources will be presented.  The screen shots are from our actual web application (previous previews have been from mockups):

Single Image


  • options button above, item info below

Page With Text

Continue reading An increasingly diverse range of formats

Mockups for our New Interface


Here’s a first look at the new design for our Digital Collections site! Based on the blueprints from our initial wireframes, these designs include fully fleshed out HTML, CSS, images, and Javascript.

These designs focus on what we’re calling ‘portals’: useful starting pages for researchers to explore particular groups of items. These can be homepages to individual digital collections, or portals to groups of items from various collections.

We hosted a discussion session among library staff last week. I’ll capture the conversation from that session in the comments section of this post.




Branding & Navigation

Continue reading Mockups for our New Interface

Presentation on Initial Wireframes (2/3/10)

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This morning, I gave a presentation to our library staff to show and discuss our possible wireframe prototypes, as well as the analysis that informed the designs. It’s a sort of visual summary of our redesign-related blog posts to this point. The embedded version here is small, but you can view the full presentation here.

Collection Homepages: Prototypes, Analysis, & Inspiration

At long last, here’s the final group of wireframes we’ll blog about for our site redesign project: the individual collection homepages. Here’s an annotated look at one of our current collection homepages:

View this feedback (Collection Homepage – Current Site) on Notable


Here are six possibilities (A – F). We’ve used Ad*Access as an example, as it is our most-visited collection:



The ideas in the prototypes stem from our analysis of the current site, per the following:
Continue reading Collection Homepages: Prototypes, Analysis, & Inspiration

Portal Page: Prototypes, Analysis & Inspiration

homemockupWe’d like to share some of our ideas for the future portal page to Duke Digital Collections. We have included highlights from user feedback that draw attention to important navigation elements, as well as examples of websites that have informed these designs. Please let us know what you think!


You can review our five initial prototypes (A through E) here.

Emphasis has been placed on ways to ease navigation by providing clear, easy ways to browse and prominently displaying visual content that highlights an assortment of interesting materials from our collections.


We’ve uncovered several important requirements for the new portal page through the variety of research methods we employed:
Continue reading Portal Page: Prototypes, Analysis & Inspiration

Search Results: Prototypes, Analysis & Inspiration

As we continue our redesign, we’re getting some really helpful feedback on our mockups for item pages. By all means, keep it coming! Here are some new prototypes for our search results screens, as well as our analysis of our current search results and examples of others systems we like. What do you think?



There are five examples here; some are searching across all collections and others are searching within a single collection. Particular areas of interest for us: location of the ‘Narrow by’ facets, display of results for matching digital collections or matching digital exhibits, collection branding & info.


View this feedback (Search Results (Cross-Collection): Existing Interface) on Notable
Here’s what we have learned about our search interface from our various evaluation methods:

Web Analytics

  1. About 75% of searches are within-collection searches; 25% are cross-collection.
  2. The majority of searches are for various topics, though many users search for items from a particular decade (“1920s”), format (“advertisements”), or collection (“Gamble”).
  3. Some users attempt to retrieve every item possible through search (“*”, “all”, “a”)

Usability Tests (Spring 2008)

Continue reading Search Results: Prototypes, Analysis & Inspiration

Item Pages – Prototypes


We have learned a lot about how to improve our item pages and we’ve gathered great examples from around the web as inspiration.  We’re now ready to share some wireframe prototypes.

There are four different wireframe prototypes here. Use the ‘Jump To’ section at the top to look at versions A, B, C, and D.  Preferences? Ideas? Concerns? Questions? Let us know what you think!

In addition to incorporating the feedback and ideas we’ve gathered so far, here are a few additional key things these designs attempt to address:
Continue reading Item Pages – Prototypes