Bringing a Network to Life
About 40,000 scientists and scholars from all over the world are part of the network that is at the heart of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. I helped Beaufort 8 build a digital home for them: The social network Humboldt Life.
How do you design a social network?
If you know a bit about the life cycle of digital products and how close success or failure lie together, you can imagine the magnitude of the challenge. Success is closely related to the acceptance and adoption rate of the product, which in the end is a question of its usefulness for the individual user. So one of the first decisions was to take a lean approach to product design, starting with a clean slate and then asking the right questions. Who are our potential users? How is their online behaviour? What moves them? What are they interested in? What will they share? What will make them come back?
So the team talked to potential users and people from the foundation to collect those insights. Based on this research, we created a tailored version of the open source networking engine elgg working in sprints. To strike a balance between development and design, we fully integrated the visual aspects of the design in the sprints and then further refined the results in dedicated design sprints.
My role in this project:
Wireframes and prototyping, visual design lead, frontend-development, plugin development support.