Designing the National Archives Web Archive

An unusual web design project for us on todays post. We usually design and build our websites, but in this case we were needed for our design expertise. How to explain this though… Well, we’re often asked why design or, graphic design is. The answer is simple. In it’s purest form,  graphic design communicates information clearly and concisely to the reader or user. Which is exactly what we did when we were asked to design a website for the National Archives on behalf of Mirrorweb, a Manchester based web archiving company.

The National Archives is a non-ministerial government department, and is the offical archive of the UK government for England and Wales, responsible for looking after some of the nation’s most iconic documents. Some dating back more than 1,000 years. After an extensive review, it was felt that, while the National Archives is heavily used and well thought of, the website’s user experience and design was lacking and functionality of the search was limited.

Even though many of the pages have been indexed by the likes of Google, many articles hadn’t, so it was vital that the website had its own search facility.

Our brief was to design a user friendly interface that was intuitive to use and maximised the user experience of the site that attracts over 1.5 million views a month. No pressure then.

Working with the new design style of the already established National Archives, including the new typography, colours, WordPress functionality, we created initial designs of the five main areas of the website for Mirrorweb to get approved by their client. After a successful meeting, we had only minor alterations needing to be made to the design. Once completed we handed the design files over to them to build.

This is where their expertise kicks in and the result was an extremely satisfied client, who blogged about it during the initial launch phase. You can read the blog here.

Check the new site here: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/webarchive/

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