First changes of 2013 released

We have spent a lot of time reviewing user feedback and reaching out directly to groups of users to understand what is - and what is not - working in the pre-release. Based on this feedback we're going to do four design sprints this year leading up to a full release planned for late March.

User research

Some patterns emerged in the open call for feedback (via the feedback tab on the pre-release site, and on the current CERN users' page) that we wanted to better understand. We therefore ran an online usability test, and invited a small number of users to take part in in-depth one-on-one interviews. Some key findings:

  • Although most users had few problems accomplishing key tasks, many felt that neither the 'CERN people' section nor the 'Directory' matched their needs.
  • The split between editorial content and the more functional directory was not well understood.
  • The fact that search and the directory are in separate areas (toolbar, separate page respectively) was confusing.
  • The label 'directory' did not match what people found there.

Rebuilt Directory

Based on the user research we focused on rebuilding the directory to make it better meet user needs. Please note that this is a new site, and there are some known issues that we have yet to fix.

Simplified toolbar

Many users couldn't find the search up in the toolbar, and were confused by the fact that it contained both global elements and contextual ones. We have got rid of the search tray completely in favour of a search tool on the directory, and a contextual (site-only) search in the sidebar.


We are testing using Drupal's native search over CERN search. This is in order to give a richer results view. Test it with a search for 'Higgs' here.

Next sprints

We will continue to work on search over the next sprints. We will also work on the 'CERN people' and 'Scientists' sections to make them feel a little denser, richer and more engaging. We begin the next sprint in a week's time and will aim to have the next release ready around 11 February.

Feedback needed

Your feedback and comments - whether positive or negative - are always welcome. You can comment directly on this blog, via the feedback form or by getting in touch with me directly.


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