Coming soon: a new look for the EMBL-EBI website – EMBL Communications

EMBL Communications

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Coming soon: a new look for the EMBL-EBI website

David Gant, Technical Content Developer, EMBL-EBI

The EMBL-EBI corporate website (www.ebi.ac.uk) provides a direct gateway to a variety of life science data resources that are highly valued and extensively used by the global scientific community, as well as offering uninterrupted access to organisational information and services to visitors.

From mid-2021 and into 2022, the Web Development and Communications teams have been working together on a project to revamp the look and feel of the EMBL-EBI corporate website, which will be rolled out in stages. We have been using the Agile Scrum methodology and have already completed seven sprints.

The primary goals of this project are to:

  • Upgrade the website to Visual Framework (VF) v2.x, to enable a consistent brand identity
  • Migrate the site to a stable technical infrastructure supported by the TSC’s Web Development team
  • Unify content entry and management for EMBL-EBI and the other EMBL sites via the Content Hub

Why transition to VF 2.x?

Key changes will include:

  • Improved navigation with a responsive hero pattern
  • Improved information architecture
  • Updated content with improved user experience 
  • A more streamlined homepage whilst maintaining the key objective of serving as the gateway to EMBL-EBI services
  • The introduction of directory and destination pages to ease user journeys
  • Digital accessibility compliance.
The homepage will transition to VF 2.0 with the adoption of a reimagined EBI Search bar, new hero image and clear calls-to-action.

To make these improvements, we have been reviewing analytics and have collated feedback from stakeholders across the organisation, as well as input from EMBL-EBI’s User Experience professionals.

Over the past few months, we had to overcome a number of challenges relating to design and layout, outdated content, confusing content categorisation and navigation, and missing calls to action.

We are also looking to make some areas of the site easier to find through added search functionality and filters. 

An example of added search on the newly developed People and groups page – a directory page for people and teams at EMBL-EBI.

What is changing and when?

We expect the revamped Home and About us pages to go live by 17 January, along with all group and team microsites and a number of other pages, such as People and groupsNewsEventsJobs and Industry Partnerships.

Next, in January-March 2022, we will be working on updating the Services and Research sections, followed by a period of extensive user testing and feedback lasting into the second half of 2022.

What is not changing?

There will be no significant changes to the actual content, EMBL-EBI header and footer, the URLs of the pages, or the look and feel of the data resources and tools. 

Will there be any negative impact for users?

Almost no downtime is expected as a result of this project, although, as with any development work, it is possible that minor bugs and issues may not be picked up in initial testing. We would very much appreciate your support as we manage this transition and we’d like to ask you to kindly report any issues, broken links or unexpected behaviour via comms@ebi.ac.uk.

What’s next?

Going forward we will continue to revisit our assumptions regarding the page goals and the audience goals and validate these with user testing. We will continue to work with  EMBL-EBI’s leadership, the Web Content Committee and our key stakeholders to align the corporate site goals with the organisation’s vision and strategy and enhance the site content and navigation based on iterative feedback.

Many thanks to our many stakeholders across EMBL-EBI and within our wider EMBL team for their continuous support and helpful input as we embarked on this project.

Stay tuned for more updates as we start the rollout. If you have any questions, please get in touch with the project team via comms@ebi.ac.uk.