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Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries

Creating an easy to navigate portal into the wealth of research resources available from one of the world’s premier universities.
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Simplifying Access to Cutting-edge Research

The Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries website provides students and researchers with access to world-leading materials from some of the most renowned researchers. The Libraries website provides access to digital and physical resources, from books and articles to scientific journals and more than 800 research databases. Organizing this volume of content called for a focus on usability and functionality. Our goal with this redesign was to help website visitors access relevant content in a timely manner and create a seamless user experience, so we enhanced the search functionality and removed distractions to create a clean, crisp design. 

Close collaboration between the JHU Sheridan team and SAI Digital throughout the project was a primary driver of the website's success. Through an agile workflow, our teams were able to work iteratively along the way, sharing feedback, making continual edits and communicating throughout every step of the process. The Sheridan team's feedback gave us insight into their needs, and we handed off a customized style guide at the end of the project to equip the team for the site's ongoing management.

view of sheridan libraries website on multiple devices

Organizing an Abundance of Information

After taking the time to understand the Libraries' available resources and how users search for and access content, we were able to provide a dynamic solution to the search functionality. The new powerful and multifaceted search function displays various results, organized by resource type, and is accessible from all pages of the site.

Clean and Simple Design

For users of the Sheridan Libraries website, simplicity was key. During user research, we heard from task-oriented students that they wanted the website to quickly and efficiently answer their questions and help them find what they were looking for, whether that be accessing an article needed for a paper due the next day, or simply finding out how to print or the library hours. The new site balances the JHU visual brand, modern web trends and a healthy dose of minimalism to create a design that is streamlined and practical while still aesthetically pleasing and on brand.

Collaboration Through Agile Workflow

A major part of the success of the project was the close collaboration between our SAI Digital team and the JHU Sheridan team. Following an agile workflow, the Sheridan team and SAI Digital worked through wireframes and a browser-based prototype before designing and building the main sections of the site. This allowed the Sheridan team to conduct iterative usability testing on the search features and the new information architecture. The Sheridan team also conducted a full content audit and managed the copywriting process with a team of content matter experts across the library, while SAI Digital managed content types, set up a GatherContent environment and provided a style guide with best practices for content writing, accessibility and SEO.

Equipped for Long-term Success

When the project was complete, we wanted to equip the Sheridan team for long-term website management rather than simply hand off a WordPress site. We customized the WordPress environment for Sheridan to include easy-to-update content collections for the Special Collection and Rare Books, faculty and staff directory and events. The new site also features a completely custom pattern library of reusable components for content authors to select, based on the design and content needs outlined in the early stages of the project.

The Results

The brand new Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries website is a fully customized WordPress site that launched in the summer of 2017. Designed for long-term success, the new site was customized for the specific roles and needs of the Sheridan team, so they are prepared to maintain and update their site over time without rewriting code or conducting significant manual content entry.