Europeana 1914-1918 is perhaps my favourite Europeana project. Why? Because it’s a great project that just couldn’t have been done without us. Getting the EU-funding and having the pan-European network to then pull it off is, I think, unique to us at Europeana. The stories that the project collects are so rich in potential re-use elsewhere, like for example exhibitions and immersive installations. Not to mention how much it means to the people who come to the Collection Days to tell the story of their grandfather or great aunt and how they were impacted by the Great War. As many wise people have concluded, in crowd-sourcing the process is perhaps more important than the outcome.
Pity then that the old Europeana 1914-1918 site just looked so bad and interacted with the user so badly! Which is why a small Europeana team has been spending the better part of the last couple of months improving the site. This work is now done and I think it’s perhaps our best work yet.
The new design is based on design principles and goals that I set up after having analyzed the project’s goals, the content it produces and how it produced by contributors and cataloguers. As always with a re-design the legacy system was perhaps the greatest constraint, but of course the two old favourites time and money made a showing as well.
The design principles and goals that we established:
- Showcase the stories told and the memorabilia shared, not the project and its consortium members
- Showcase the real persons these stories are about and the memorabilia they left behind
- Showcase and empower the person, often a descendant of someone the story is about, sharing this story with us
- Ensure a good user experience whether you’re visiting the site on your PC, tablet or mobile
- Improve the search for stories and allow for more exploration of stories via browsing
- Improve the consistency and quality of the crowdsourced content
- Make it possible to localize the UI into any number of languages
- Make it possible for our Marketing&Communications team to easily write news entries and choose stories to feature
In order to accomplish all of this we pretty much rebuilt the Europeana 1914-1918 front-end from scratch and made some serious renovation work on its RunCoCo back-end. In follow up posts to this one I’ll go into a little bit more detail on how we tried to fulfill the principles and meet the goals listed above. First up some details on content modelling, editorial support and localization.