Unifying LOC.gov

Unifying LOC.gov


The problem.

Over the last two decades the public-facing website for our nation's largest cultural institution, the Library of Congress,  grew massive and unwieldy. With very little organized structure, hierarchy, or centralized governance LOC.gov evolved into a disorganized and confusing online experience.

With the help of renown Information Architect, Peter Morville, a high-level strategy was defined to address the major issues with all the Library's web properties. The highest priority initiatives outlined how the LOC.gov website must provide more efficient use and access to the Library's treasures, but  in a way users can logically find, explore and gain context around them.

Solution: Object-oriented, faceted search.

Directly taken from this strategy, the UX team began creating a templated system which leverages existing meta data to drive a new, faceted search paradigm which allows users to pare down their results, much like shopping on Amazon or Home Depot.

Solution: Templates for Objects, Formats, Collections.

The templated system provides context from item to item in the collections, and is described by a newly established framework driven by meta data, thus: "Object", "Format", "Collection".

Object

Every digitized object in the Library has its own page with bibliographic details, catalog info, links to relevant content, and a way to view, watch or listen to the item.

Format

Every digitized object in the collection has a format associated with it, such as Newspaper, Manuscript, Print or Photograph, and so on.

Collections

Many items in the Library also belong to collections, there is now a landing page where users can browse items in a specific collection. These collections describe the inter-relationships within a group of objects, and also link to other objects and other collections those objects belong to. 

My Role, Template Systems

Art Director, collaborator, fully integrated in activities with the head of UX and the Information Architect. We worked side-by-side much of the way, defining elements, flows and functionality. Of course the IA wrote the majority of the specifications, but I was responsible for Art Directing and establishing a scalable visual design system for all template pages and elements - taken from wireframes and translated into comps, collaborating with developers to have them customize CSS, html and JQuery until things fit properly. I am also responsible for compiling the comps, annotations and specifications into one cohesive Functional Specifications document.  ( NOTE: The website and many elements are still getting some tweaking and updating here and there ) 

Solution: Global Navigation
(*not yet implemented )

Another high-priority outlined in the Web Strategy required LOC.gov to provide more efficient access to the Library's treasures. The approach to tackling a global navigation system was inspired in part by metrics, partly by best practices, but loaded with political implications. 

My Role, Global Navigation

I gathered the UX team around a large whiteboard where we began a weeks-long exercise to organize, vett, and coalesce the most-searched terms with politically-charged mandates. We card-sorted and reorganized until we had a passable model. Once this goes live we will monitor and pull metrics and perform usability testing. Of course the IAs and I worked together defining the navigation system and elements, but as Art Director I designed the menu system and landing pages ( for those not-yet-existing ). Again, I am also responsible for compiling the comps, annotations and specifications into one cohesive document. 

 

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