By: Stephen Cornelius, Senior Product Manager; IT Development
Authors familiar with SpringerLink may have noticed a significant change over the course of this year. All of our journal article pages are now running on a completely new design, which we feel matches the best contemporary standards for the display of scholarly content. Here are a few important things to know about the new article pages.
When we began redesigning the article page we didn’t go away and produce a high-fidelity Photoshop mock-up of what it would look like. We began with a very skeletal outline implementation, put it live and invited users to see it and comment with their feedback. As our new design evolved we switched to the new view by default, but continued to collect data and feedback which shaped our end result.
One feature which we received a lot of feedback about was the display of authors and their institutional affiliations. On the web everything has to fight for space, and while it is important to show the main authors straight away, information about where they work and how to contact them is better saved for at a later and deeper level of engagement. Our initial design showed the institutional information in a bubble which appeared when a user hovered over the author’s name. This seemed neat but people told us that they found this cumbersome, requiring a lot of mousing about and with no ability to see all of the institutions at once. So we switched to a two-panel view where the authors display simply by default, but can be explored in depth by clicking a tab.
People don’t read scholarly articles in a linear fashion. They scan the title, the abstract and the names of the key authors. They then might skip to the methods, or the results, or cast their eye over the figures. Having all of the text on a fast-loading scrollable page definitely helps with this, but we also added a prominent jump menu on the right-hand side of the article built from the main section headings.
We know that Google Scholar is very popular with our users, so we hoped it would be useful to add direct links to search for references on Scholar using a specification they gave us. But we were surprised when this instantly became one of the most popular features on the site, receiving five times more clicks than the existing CrossRef links.
The proportion of scholarly content consumed via mobile phones and tablets is still much smaller than it is for things like news media, but it is growing fast, and search engines like Google award higher rankings to content that works well on small screens. Our new article pages were designed from the outset to be fast and readable on all devices.
Articles on SpringerLink used to have just the abstract on the main article page, with the full-text of the HTML hidden behind a relatively obscure link. This was not consistent with the practice on other key publisher platforms or on Nature.com or the BioMed Central website. Now the entire article displays on a single page when user has access to it. This means that we count our downloads in the same way others do and get more overall.
We are pleased with the reception that our new article pages have received, and are now moving on to redesign other types of content on SpringerLink. We’ve already started working on a similar treatment for Conference Papers. Watch this space!