A new website for a national icon
We cannot understand the present or plan for the future without the knowledge of the past
So said then-Prime Minister Harold Holt at the ceremony to lay the first stone for the National Library of Australia in 1966.
Since that moment, the National Library of Australia has been one of the nation’s most important cultural institutions. That simple foundational idea - holding memories of the past while planning for the future – led to a need for this important project.
An organisation such as the NLA, which is a crucial repository of the nation’s knowledge and history, must have a website that reflects changing digital habits and adapts to the emerging needs of users over time.
User behaviour at the library had changed over time and the site was struggling to keep pace and meet expectations. People struggled to find the resources they needed and were often unaware of the curated information that the NLA had published with specific audiences in mind. For some, finding the catalogue was a challenging task.
The NLA’s vision was for users to be able to access content wherever they want, whenever they want, and with a particular focus on digital content. The Library had commissioned a Digital Engagement Framework that identified a range of initiatives required to enhance public awareness and usability of content.
The NLA Executive engaged ThinkPlace and partner agency Oxide to assist them with understanding the user experience of the NLA website, with a view to identifying necessary improvements to the look, feel and usability of the site, to improve the browsing experience and make it easier to find content.
HOW WE DID IT
The Library sought the help of ThinkPlace and Oxide to refresh and rebrand its website. To meet user needs in a digital world it is necessary to first meet with users.
ThinkPlace led a discovery process to obtain a deep understanding of key user cohorts, their perception of the library’s brand and their motivations and experience in using the library’s content.
Building from the library’s own strategic decisions regarding perception and target audiences we gathered insights over 10 hours of user research activities with external users, and via a series of conversations and focus groups with internal stakeholders. We ran an internal workshop that brought together a wide range of staff, during which the group collectively re-envisioned the NLA’s brand persona.
We refreshed the branding of the NLA website in a way that fed into the whole of NLA rebrand work, carrying out and then deploying brand perception research with external stakeholders
We produced an initial design system that created a look and feel for the website that could be built upon in later stages. The scope for this work included layout of content and sub-navigation on key landing pages.
The library’s new website design incorporated the end user's voice and views in terms of bringing the brand values that their cohorts valued most.
ThinkPlace provided library staff deep but deployable understanding of the user experience and their engagement process. Staff described how excited they were by their involvement in the process of adapting the NLA branding to future website needs.
By providing a website design with a contemporary look and feel that resonated with their audiences, ThinkPlace helped the Library's digital development progress towards an engaging and user-centered site. It is a site that much better meets the needs of those who depend on it for timely and pain-free access to critical information about our nation.