BU launched a new Research Support site. The new site takes multiple sites built over the years to address myriad aspects of research and brings them all under one roof.
This site serves the entire research community at BU including faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students engaged in research.
Most importantly, this site was built for the community and with the community’s input. Launching the site is just the beginning—we need to hear from you about what’s working or not and what you’d like to see on the site. Please explore, enjoy, and keep the feedback coming!
Please contact John Martins, Director of Communications for Research, with questions or feedback.
The Project Process:
To create this site we’re basing our decisions on web best practices, lessons learned from other BU sites, and most importantly, ongoing input from the research community. At certain points in the project we stop to gauge our progress and make adjustments if necessary so we stay on track to deliver a high-quality site for you. Learn more about the strategy, goals, and benefits of the new website.
Winter 2016: Launch!
One stop shop
This is a single source for information you can trust – we’ve worked to eliminate duplicate versions, outdated information, and organized information by what people are trying to do rather than complicated org charts.
Big picture to tiny details
Multiple ways for people to get to the information: a graphic representation of the project lifecycle; landing pages for each topic that provide big picture overviews of areas that also have links for quick dives into detailed content; an expanded menu, and enhanced search.
More on search: A useful feature if you don’t want to go to lots of pages is the type-ahead search. With type-ahead search when you start typing in a few seconds a list of pages with those words will show up below the search bar, no need to hit enter to see results! If you do hit enter you’ll be taken to a page of search results. There’s also section-specific search so instead of finding results from the entire site you’ll get just the ones that are most relevant.
Info at your fingertips, right when you need it
If you’re reading information on a page and it references a form you need to fill out instead of having to go to the forms library to find it just click on the link! Same for policies or other content that’s relevant.
Forms & Policies library
See a comprehensive list of all the forms and policies in one place with a section-specific search and filter options.
Please come to the site when you need a form – don’t download it and store it on your desktop or server. Outdated and inaccurate information was the #1 concern when we interviewed faculty and staff. It’s impossible to update a form if it’s on your desktop but the site will be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary so it’s the authoritative source.
If you see a word in bold teal with a ? next to it that’s a glossary term. Hover over it with your mouse or finger and the term pops up! Helpful for all the acronyms we use here.
Forms are now either filled out online or are editable PDFs in a standardized design so people instantly recognize they are a research-related form and can type their answers in easily. There’s an option for digital signatures on the PDF forms now as well.
News & Calendar
Look for important information here – when the NSF changes their guidelines you’ll find it here, funding deadlines, look here as well. Upcoming trainings, check. If you have something you’d like to announce let us know!
We hope you’ll come to the site for information you need but sometimes you need to print or PDF something so we created a printer-friendly site that doesn’t have a lot of the extra junk you sometimes see when you try to print the internet.
Sites rolling into research support, being archived
These sites will be redirected to the new site. They will be archived by IS&T and not accessible. The content has been moved to the new site – please search for what you need since the new site is organized a bit differently and pulls together all of this information!
ORC: bu.edu/orc | OSP: bu.edu/osp/ | ROHP: bu.edu/rohp/ | OTD: bu.edu/otd | ORC Committees: bu.edu/orccommittees/ | ROSA: bu.edu/rosa/ | Animal Care: bu.edu/animalcare/ | CRC IRB: bu.edu/irb/ | PAFO section of: bu.edu/cfo/post-award-financial-operations/ | Uniform Guidance: bu.edu/uniformguidance/
User Testing Results and Analysis; Design
We had a great response to the user testing request and the results were a nice mix of faculty and staff across the University. Detailed reports (in PDF form) are below.
Exercise 1: Layout
Exercise 2: Content Organization
These results helped us adjust certain aspects of the content organization and layout as we moved into the design phase of the Research Support site and continued to review and organize the content. We’re evolving the research brand so you’ll see colors, fonts, and visuals that you’re used to from bu.edu/research used in slightly different ways since the purpose and content of the Research Support site is different than the Research site but still closely related in many ways.
User Testing Exercises
Working with our colleagues at Interactive Design, we developed a proposed layout and way to organize the content based on conversations with faculty and staff during summer 2016. These exercises were meant to help gauge how easily people were able to find information within the proposed layout and organization to see where we needed to make adjustments before the project proceeded.
No right or wrong – just helpful.
There’s no right or wrong answer in user testing—we’re interested in how you’d find the information and it’s useful to know if you get lost in the process so we can fix it. These questions covered a wide range of topics that might not all be familiar to everyone and that’s ok. It was helpful to know if we have too much jargon, not enough, or if people can find information they aren’t used to looking for.
Strategic Direction, Goals, and Benefits of the Research Support Site
This project is driven by the Office of the Vice President and Associate Provost for Research’s goal to increase awareness of the great research happening at Boston University amongst both internal and external audiences and provide support to internal and external audiences in the navigation of research projects and processes.
Sharing the great work happening at BU is essential as well and bu.edu/research, which launched in Fall 2014, is the place to find stories, accolades, and amazing interactive features about our research.
Specific objectives to improve communication with internal audience by:
- Dedicating one consolidated website to research support, which combines important resources and information to create a comprehensive resource center for the BU research community. The consolidated site will include, but not be limited to, the following sites as appropriate: www.bu.edu/research and sites including but not limited to: www.bu.edu/osp, www.bu.edu/cfo/post-award-financial-operations/, www.bu.edu/rosa, www.bu.edu/orc, www.bu.edu/otd, www.bu.edu/animalcare, www.bu.edu/irb, www.bu.edu/ehs, and www.bu.edu/rohp
- Organizing the website based on user needs first rather than internal organizational structure
- Compiling all support resources in one central location for researchers to access
- Improving discoverability of resources by leveraging search and filtering tools
- Utilizing graphic treatments to present complex information in a simple, more digestible way
- Encouraging and facilitating the opportunity to engage with research support staff offline, when appropriate
Overall Project benefits:
- Respond to the need for a simplified resource, as identified in conversations with the community.
- Comprehensively and thoughtfully review, update, and create content as necessary.
- Identify commonalities, remove duplicates, and create helpful linkages between content.
- Eliminate ambiguity through clear content ownership roles and adherence to single-source content.
- Present workflows and procedures in a user-friendly way.
- Amplify messaging and reduce content maintenance burden through content sharing.
- Highlight the breadth and depth of activity in the community through robust calendar functionality that can also be sorted/filtered for personalized needs.
- Embrace user experience and user interface best practices through user-focused organization and design that is based on user actions/needs rather than organization charts.
- Elevate user experience through thoughtful design and content.
- In-page navigation to find specific information quickly
- In-line or on-page forms, policies, additional information to complete task at hand.
- Decrease fragmented image by presenting a unified research community to internal and external audiences through a cohesive visual identity.
- Develop a comprehensive understanding of the research community through user testing, in-person discussions, and feedback. Identify communication preferences and focus energies on most effective channels.
- Enhanced measurement and analytics by using a single site – no longer apples to oranges to pears to grapefruits.
- Improved accessibility through standardization of content types (translating PowerPoint, word, and excel docs into web copy and translating PDFs where possible – forms are an exception)