Our website redesign launched just over a year ago and ever since we’ve continued to work on updating the site. It’s a big challenge and a long journey but we’re getting there!
Alongside these much needed changes we are developing a way of documenting the new design itself: a way of demonstrating how content should be arranged and displayed on screen. This will be a transparent and ultimately public guide, mainly for anyone involved in the production and maintenance of our sites. It will ensure standards are met visually (primarily user interface aspects) and in terms of accessibility (primarily user experience, or UX, aspects) as well as technically (based on W3C standards and best practices for optimisation of markup, scripts and code).
The design guide is essentially a big list of the different components that make up our sites and webpages, how they should appear and how they should behave. The idea is that with this guide to refer to we can avoid unintended inconsistencies in appearance and behaviour more easily. With so many people working on such a large website every day, visual consistency can be a problem.
A key part of the redesign’s aim was to ensure that the many sections of The National Archives website would have stronger visual and behavioural connections than they have done to date. This includes Discovery – our catalogue, our core service sections, the Archives Media Player and this blog itself. As each of these sections are redesigned the amount they share in appearance and behaviour will increase. Cosmetic differences may well be restricted to any use of decorative imagery (banners and backgrounds) although variations in colour palette and typography are areas we are keen to explore further in accordance with accessibility guidelines.