The Gale product platform was updated in 2017 to deliver an improved, consistent experience across Gale's 200+ research products. To get there took 2 years of research and design iteration with input from hundreds of students, teachers, and librarians. Our primary goals were the following:
- Improve interface and interaction consistency along with brand identity
- Update the search experience to focus on the most useful tools
- Ensure accessibility to meet and exceed WCAG 2.0 requirements
Improving Consistency and Brand Identity
Creating over 200+ research products, all featuring different content, meant there were a lot of different interfaces built over Gale's history. With a major effort to move the products to a single platform, this was the opportunity to standardize their look and implement a strong brand identify. The UX team worked to standardize the experience where possible while keeping the customizations that provided unique value to the content or specific research experience. UX also teamed with the Marketing team to ensure brand recognition through multiple concepts and testing with hundreds of users through unmoderated remote testing through UserZoom.
3 Similar Products Before
3 Similar Products After
Updated Search Experience
Over time, a lot had been added to the search experience and it was time to refocus on just the aspects that were helping users get the results they wanted. Here's what we did to achieve that:
- Redesigned how each result looked – read more about that here
- Update layout to make better use of space, reducing the length of the page and the time required to scroll through results
- Updated filters based on Google Analytics usage numbers
- Presented most important filter across the top to aide switching between content types
- Collapsed and condensed least used filters to free up space for more useful tools
- Applied the "Full Text" filter by default as it was the most frequently used filter that lead to the best retrievals
Focus on Accessibility
Not only is ensuring accessibility a great way to improve overall usability, it's good business. We wanted to ensure our platform empowered researchers with disabilities rather than present barriers to them. Here's the actions we took:
- Built a color palette with appropriate contrast levels – read more about that here
- Implemented appropriate Header structures, ARIA labels, and tab orders to support screen readers and keyboard users
- Tested ourselves using the axe tool from Deque and worked with an agency that speacilizes in accessibility and has people with the actual disabilities we need to support.
Ask me more!
That's a solid overview of this project, but there's plenty more to it! I'd love to dive deeper with you on any of the topics above or any other aspect of this project. Here are some starters:
- Why was visual consistency between products important? Shouldn't they feel like unique products to tell them apart?
- That's a pretty big visual on the home page – couldn't that space be better utilized? Ab. So. Lutely. Let's talk about why it's that way and how it could be better.
- Getting the whole company involved in user testing to broaden user understanding
- Winning leadership support for a massive project