Knowing what you don’t know
The Europeana website currently offers you the ability to search by keyword. This serves much of our audience nicely, but what about the people who don’t know what they’re searching for? Our blogs, galleries and exhibitions highlight the high-quality material available through Europeana, but with millions of items in our collection, we couldn’t write about all of them!
This is where our new browsing options come in. The demo website is better at guiding you through collections without a specific search thanks to the development of the ’entities’ we introduced a couple of years ago. These are also known as ‘people’ or ‘topics’ on the current website. We’ve taken this basic feature and improved it to offer an interconnected way to browse collections. This means that rather than these collections being manually curated, they will now grow organically as we add and enrich new items. With this change comes the ability to traverse between related collections as well. There is more work to do on the algorithm we use to generate these relationships, but it’s a good demonstration of our direction.
Improving universal accessibility
In the past, we built our website and then added accessibility compliance in retrospect, rather than building it into our work from the beginning. We’ve now reversed the process. If our code doesn’t validate the stringent requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2AA, our processes will not allow us to make the changes to the website public. This saves us time, and gives us a compliant website from day one. We’re doing our best to include better labelling on pictorial elements to ensure that content can be interpreted by screen readers and other tools. We’ve still got a little way to go, and we’re seeking help from specialist organisations on how we can improve our accessibility. Once we’ve established what we understand to be a quality experience, we will reach out to the appropriate end-users to help us understand whether we are taking the right approach.
More than just a facelift
This redevelopment of the Europeana website is more than just a splash of plaster and paint on our current foundation. We have replaced our entire technology stack with a speedy front-end application, using technologies which offer you the speed and quality you would expect on modern social networks and websites. We’ve also outsourced our content management system, which you can read more about here. You can expect to hear more about our technical changes in the future, including the issues we’ve faced and what we’ve done.
What can you expect from us in the coming months?
The demo website is going to advance significantly over the coming weeks and months. We’re going to be making changes, some obvious and some less so. To give you an idea of what’s on the way, you can expect:
Exhibitions, blogs, and galleries will be added and brought into the style of the demo website
We’ll be adding new, more powerful filtering options
Newspaper features will be reintroduced, including date search, IIIF viewer, and full-text search
The Fashion Collection will have its special vocabulary filters added
Social media sharing from Collection and Item pages will be added
We will increase the number of supported media players
How can you help us?
Quite simply, use and enjoy the demo website. And tell us about it. Every page on the website has a new feedback button which allows you to annotate exactly what you like or dislike about a page. We need you to tell us both what is and isn’t working. Your feedback helps us identify bugs and understand what we need to improve in the future. If you’d like to learn more about the developments you can also sign-up for our newsletter and we’ll send you a monthly progress update on what’s new.