Re-Design and Re-Build
Data managed smarter for 56% less
With a total budget of £218 million for 2010/11, the Economic and Social Research Council is the UK's leading agency for research funding and training in economic and social sciences.
The Council recognised that their old website was incurring high maintenance and operational costs whilst delivering increasingly limited performance. New features had become hard and expensive to implement; the Awards and Output research repository, home to all 11,000 grants and 105,000 research outputs, continued to increase in size making user access slow and difficult.
Essentially, the site was no longer capable of meeting the demands placed upon it, and was in need of an overhaul.
When ESRC engaged Building Blocks to re-design the entire solution, the objectives were very clear. The new solution must:
- Reduce the annual website running costs
- Make access to the content in the Repository easy for internal and external users
- Make it easier and faster to browse content, especially content related to funding opportunities and the impacts of past funding
- Fulfill the ESRC's ambition to create a portal as a 'first port of call' for individuals and organisations interested in Social Sciences
- Be robust and scalable to meet future demands.
Having worked closely with ESRC to gain an in-depth insight into their requirements, Building Blocks used their structured design process to create a solution that would deliver the objectives and meet the needs of the end users.
A key objective of the design was to reduce operational and maintenance costs whilst improving the overall performance and experience - a combination of leading technologies was chosen to achieve this.
Zentity was seen as the ideal research repository solution as it can handle the complex data models, whilst also providing data access in many open formats. In addition the team designed a more intuitive and robust backend system to enable ESRC support teams to manage the submission of research outputs, reducing management overheads. The quality and consistency of the data was also improved by ensuring the internal workflows were more efficient and allowing integration with other academic data sources such as SHERPA/RoMEO.
Whilst the technical design was in full flow; in parallel the team also begun to visualize how users will interact with the solution. Building Blocks worked closely with ESRC to create user personas and detailed user journeys before creating interactive wireframes to visualize how the solution and approach might work.
Finally, Building Blocks' creative team partnered with ESRC to make sure their brand guidelines permeated every aspect of the look and feel.
The net result of the final solution design and build is a facility which is 56% less expensive to run annually, yet infinitely more accommodating and valuable to its users.
- SDL Tridion 2009
- Microsoft Zentity 2.0 - An open-source, flexible and scalable semantic research information repository. A CRIS (Current Research Information Management System)
- SOLR - A fast open source enterprise search platform
- ASP.NET MVC