Science for curious minds

Client Australian Academy of Science


The Australian Academy of Science established the highly successful Nova: science in the news website in 1997 to provide jargon-free, accessible scientific information on topical subjects to students, teachers and the general public.

Webplace reassessed Nova’s audience, purpose and content delivery framework, and gave the website a fresh new look.


One of the Academy’s most ambitious goals is for Nova to create a more scientifically literate public.

Our challenge was to support this goal by creating a website that provided topical, relevant, and scientifically accurate information in such an engaging and interactive way that students, teachers, media, government and the general public would use Nova as the ‘go to’ science reference site – thus increasing its reach over time.

The Academy also wanted the new website to support their ultimate goal by improving collaboration and cross-publishing with other science information providers and journalists.


We conducted a number of focus groups and interviews with stakeholders including some of Australia’s most accomplished Academic fellows, representative users and the project team. One comment about Nova’s future vision – ‘solid ideas explained through dynamic media’ – encapsulates the feedback well.

We then created a series of user personas and stories, wire frames and an Information Architecture and validated them with users. The next step was to produce an innovative and multi-layered user interface; and a content framework suitable for users of vastly different ages and backgrounds.

Finally, we deployed the Drupal content management system to manage the many functions and different types of content for launch, including ‘pull out’ quotes and insights, glossary, additional reading, activities, and infographics.

The result

The Academy now publish content in a variety of formats, from in-depth articles to fun, interactive content. This means they can communicate complex research and data in a more engaging way, without compromising its integrity.

The site tested highly in two well known benchmark studies indicating high levels of usability and satisfaction:

  • System Usability Score of 82.8
  • Net Promoter Score of 13.

And success was also confirmed by:

  • messages from expert scientists wanting get involved in this ‘new exciting, appealing website’ – a tick for a key project objective.
  • 200 new Facebook followers and 50 new twitter followers within two days of launching, without advertising.
  • glowing feedback about how the site looks.

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