The Sciblogs website operates as a hub for scientific journalism, analysis and discussion. Originally a collection of a variety of different science blogs managed by the Science Media Centre (SMC) team, SMC came to Prefer to find a better solution for the aggregation of their source material and a more user-focussed approach to design.

The process

Prefer spent some time getting to know how the site originally functioned, and how that might be improved with updated technology. Understanding how users and bloggers were using the site was key to providing a better solution and to improve the user experience. The insight we had was to focus more on Sciblogs as an intelligent ‘hub’ with its own branding, site strategy and user optimisations rather than simply an ‘dumb’ aggregator merely feeding back information that was fed to it.

On building the site, we needed to concentrate on the different input channels – bloggers blogging from within Sciblogs as well as blogs being linked to from external sources – and the ways those could best be presented and filtered based on the users’ interests. In the back end, it was important that bloggers could have access as editors from directly within the site – while administrators could oversee the content, analytics, comments and other detailed monitoring required from a site with multiple contributors.

The technology

The decision to build on a highly customised WordPress CMS was a natural fit, providing the necessary levels of administration, taxonomy and ease-of-use that the site required. The final overall design gives a sense of sophisticated (but understated) brand presence to add credibility and a responsive layout for device accessibility. Additionally, to address user experience priorities identified in the initial research, we used simple but elegantly designed filtering methods to create a solution that feels more accessible and flexible, catering to many different user groups with variety and depth while still reinforcing its status as a hub for science discussion and interaction.