Requirements gathering and user-centred design at the EBI

I started working at the EBI a few months ago now. The team I am in, External Services, is responsible for managing requests for websites for a range of EU projects who wish to communicate their research to the public and other scientists.

We often start these projects with an outline plan for what to produce but requirements can change as we go along, and it can be hard to retain focus on what the user of a particular website needs.

Given my focus, I was keen to make things easier for both my team, and for the audience for these websites – hopefully making the whole thing a good user experience for all involved!

I started working on a framework for requirements gathering, to help both our team and the website requestors. It deliberately focus attention on the user or the audience, but at the same provides a way for our “clients” (usually internal) to frame their requests. The main process looks like this:

Requirements framework: a user-centred design approach

Requirements framework: a user-centred design approach

So… what are you trying to communicate? What problem are you trying to solve? Who are the audience? What conventions exist? What have other people done already in this area?

Jenny Cham has been at the EBI for a couple of months now, so it was great to be able to bring her in on developing this framework. With her background, she is well-equipped to consider things from the scientific users’ point-of-view, helping to fine-tune the user research we carry out.

At its core, the aim is to deliver something useful (and usable, please!) for the target audience, whilst streamlining the work for our team. A proposed tool in this framework will be a “website request form”, roughly based on the kind of thing I would have used with freelance clients in the past.


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