Tech focus

Tech focus: Emerald sparkles in UX challenge

Single sign-on provider OpenAthens has announced the winner of its inaugural best publisher user experience (UX) award for 2020.

The identity and access management specialist revealed winner Emerald Publishing and its Emerald Insight platform at its 2020 Access Lab conference which took place online in late March. The publisher won the award after demonstrating how it has put the needs and experience of users at the heart of changes to digital services. Emerald Publishing says it recognised

a user-centred design was important to meet the needs of their users. The UK-based publisher founded in 1967 clearly demonstrated how it had worked to get closer to users to understand their needs and user journey. The organisation moved away from an existing vendor to directly manage its platform, employing a dedicated UX team to do this. Speaking at the conference on the

award, head of user experience at Emerald Publishing, Damian Stewart, said: ‘It is a great honour to win this award and really validates that we are doing UX in the right way. It’s also recognition of the hard work that the team has put in to build a platform that makes the lives of researchers and

UX tips from the top

Vee Rogacheva, UX designer at OpenAthens, recently spoke to Research Information about user experience. She explained that, in scholarly publishing, UX is the interaction of learners, researchers, faculty staff and librarians with the ecosystem of tools and services they use to navigate to required digital resources.

She said: ‘Committed to

empowering library users spanning a wide range of industries, OpenAthens plays a significant role in supporting institutions. Whether they are a PhD student, a hospital

16 Research Information June/July 2020

clinician or a research scientist, we provide quick, easy and secure access to online content for end-users from anywhere, at any time. The OpenAthens team works hard to ensure our products and services constitute a powerful tool which empowers both librarians and end-users. ‘Users’ expectations of their

experiences have evolved rapidly and have been framed by the likes of Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon. They expect online tools and services to be simple and intuitive. These expectations have placed increasing pressure on publishers, libraries and

academic institutions to bolster investment in digital services and improve the UX of their products. The focus is very much on users’ needs, rather than the technology itself. ‘The ecosystem and

the overall student and researcher experience have to be the priorities, not the individual platforms or tools. RA21 and NISO are working towards that goal with the introduction of seamless access recommendations for both publishers and libraries. Their aim is to transform the industry and deliver safer and easier

readers easier.’ Emerald Insight’s design was praised for making research that benefits society easy to discover for the widest possible audience. Co-developed with 18 universities from around the world, the platform was described as invaluable for academics, librarians and students alike. Emerald’s communities tested and validated every design decision to make researchers’ and readers’ lives easier. Judges highlighted Emerald’s simple

search and enhanced filter together with crisp, clean UI and simple in-page navigation allowing users to move seamlessly between sections of articles and the various content types as stand- out features. It was also noted that the organisation is working towards latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. Also taken into account as part of the

tough selection process were plans for future development and a commitment to ongoing improvements, specifically the discoverability of content, development of the browse function and user behaviour analytics to give further insights. Stewart continued: ‘We would like to

give a special thanks to our network of librarians and end users who have continued to provide us with their time,

allowing us to follow a user-centred approach, something that is really important to Emerald and what we do here. ‘I’d finally like to give thanks to our

partners, particularly 67 Bricks, which has supported us in building this platform and will continue to support us moving forward.’ Marketing director of Emerald

Vee Rogacheva

@researchinfo |

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