May 31, 2016
Throughout time, researchers and historians around the globe have archived scrolls and letters as references, from where they could seek answers to problems, or as a source of knowledge. Now in the age of digital, what is going to help archive information, or communications of high value, exchanged between people of socio-political significance with everything running on wire? Within these confined wired communication lies a bank of knowledge shared by those who were successful or those who are still learning from their mistakes.
ePADD is a software package developed by Stanford University’s Special Collections & University Archives that supports archival processes around the appraisal, ingest, processing, discovery, and delivery of emails. It is a significant step taken by the institution in unlocking the historical value embedded in the mail conversation of influential leaders throughout immensely benefitting researchers and the like.
To understand this app, you’d need to experience it firsthand. When you open the app you land a login page that is meant to be accessed by two sets of people. Students doing the research work who have restricted access; and the library staff that is archiving, sorting and cataloging the emails. After that you open a discovery module page that gives you options to browse through subjects or you can directly feed in a name in the search bar.
Now suppose you’re looking for emails archives of a certain Alexander Tate, the app further navigates you to a page where you’ll have a brief bio of Tate, a count of the number of emails, documents, attachments, images archived between a certain time period. On the next page you can further narrow your search by opting from correspondents, people, locations, organizations etc. So to view an email from Alexander Tate written to United Nations between 1998 to 2001, containing an attached document, these four pages will narrow your search to these precise filters.
Lollypop Design Studio worked on the UX and UI design for this Web App. Once they were provided with its contents, they started building a user experience around functionality and purpose – to be able to find specific emails in shorter time. With multiple possibilities of a name search, the UX design moves from a broader to a finer search. Since this was first of its kind web app, a lot of research went underway to understand the pre-requisites and derive solutions.
The interface designed by Lollypop provides filters to further narrow your search down to the following page. So if you have to find a mail in a pool of ten thousand emails, it helps you narrow it down to a few hundred from that pool. Also it has a lot of subtle icons that were devised for easy filtration and annotations that help scan information at a glance. The data hierarchy also plays an important role in focusing the viewer’s attention towards what needs to be read and analysed, aside from the excess which may not be of particular use.
The UI design has a significant consistency in the overall layout. Use of single colour and ample white space leads to optimised reading. A combination of list and grid view has been provided based on the prominence of the data that is being highlighted. There are no provocative design elements that distract you from the actual content on the page.
The logo, also designed by Lollypop, merges the conventional email symbol with a stack to generate the evolved logo for the Web App. The white and blue colours are non strenuous and one gets to hover between the pages quite smoothly without any distractions.
Lollypop Design Studio had to drive the users of this app through an effortless search engine that would give them better results in lesser time. Blending efficiency and effectiveness in their process, they have created an interface that enthuses the end user just right for their research.
Lollypop Design Studio designed a user-friendly and elegant UX/UI solution; and a strong identity for this educational Web App. For credits of various teams who have worked on ePADD click here. You can visit Lollypop’s website for more details on this project and others.