The March issue of BMC Bioinformatics includes the first ‘how to’ guide for applying user-centred design (UCD) to websites for bioinformatics. In this post, written by user experience (UX) professionals at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) UK, we find out how UCD could positively impact scientific discovery in the life sciences.
Paper prototyping for Enzyme Portal
Bioinformatics services can be really useful for scientific research, but unfortunately they have a reputation for being too technical and hard-to-use. This is because it is usually the software developers who decide how bioinformatics software looks and behaves, rather than the biomedical researchers who actually use the resource.
In our article, we outline a better approach – focusing on what the users want.
We are happy to announce that EMBL-EBI’s latest article on user experience in bioinformatics has just been published in the peer-reviewed open access journal, PLoS Computational Biology. We hope this article is just the start of a trend towards more user experience-related articles in bioinformatics and the wider life sciences. We feel that in general, articles applying UX in complex domains are scarce in scientific literature, so we hope there will more output in this direction going forwards. For PLoS journals you can post comments directly with the article on their website, so we look forward to hearing your views and opinions on our work. Enjoy!
It’s interesting how many HTML tables there are on bioinformatics websites. It’s equally interesting (in a way) to see how bad they can look. I can literally count in one hand the number of times I’ve actually seen a nice looking table. So…I was very happy to stop by this post on designing HTML tables.
Have a gander, I found the post to be fairly well written and puts into action a lot of design concepts.
The next post I wanted to bring attention to focuses on color wheels. The post is entitled Color wheels are wrong? How color vision actually works.
The post actually brings up some really great points Bang Wong made on his visit to the campus last year. He also has a recent publication in Nature Methods regarding the use of colour.
I hope you find this all interesting and useful!
Storytelling can be a really powerful way to inform user experience design. We can of course use it to involve the audience, and it can give narrative to the information we wish to communicate. Data can tell a story. The personas we sometimes use in the design process are characters in a story, and that story might describe the context in which our websites and software are used… Continue reading
A paper describing the evaluation of BioText, a search engine for Open Access Journals that displays figures from the papers directly in the search results, has been published in PLoS ONE yesterday:
Divoli A, Wooldridge MA, Hearst MA (2010) Full Text and Figure Display Improves Bioscience Literature Search. PLoS ONE 5(4):e9619.
The paper is an great example of how a (search) website for bioscience research can be evaluated. It describes a user study with 20 participants and concludes that bioscience literature search engines should provide figures from articles in the search results and that not only abstract, title and meta data should be search but also figure captions and the full text of the articles.
BioText is the work of Marti Hearst’s group at UC Berkeley, who recently published a book called “Search User Interfaces“. Francis wrote a mini review of the book earlier this year.
Founded in 1984, Interaction is a specialist Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) group of the British Computer Society (BCS). Interaction produces a quarterly electronic magazine covering all sorts of HCI topics, also called Interfaces (yes, it is just a coincidence).
They make it available online, and the Winter 2009 issue appeared last week.
You can also download archive issues in PDF format.