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Nova digital strategy & website redevelopment

An engaging, interactive science website using Drupal
overview Overview
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.
Challenge The Challenge

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.

Opportunity The Solution

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

Nova has always been renowned for high quality content produced by leading academic and scientific fellows. The new website leverages this content and displays it in a highly engaging way.

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.


Best Digital Design finalist

Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA)

In November 2015 the Nova project was nominated as a finalist in the Australian Graphic Design Association’s (AGDA) ‘Best Digital Design’ award category.

Special Kudos

CSS Design Awards

Nova got a professional ‘pat on the back’ for exemplary work that deserves recognition from CSS Design Awards. Their ‘Special Kudos’ is a way of recognising outstanding site designs that demonstrate high levels of creativity, code and usability.

Not only were the Webplace team a joy to work with, but the results of the project have been met with great acclaim from our staff, our users and the public.

A common trend in the feedback received is a glowing review of the site's visual presentation. This indicates that the work of Webplace has not only been fit-for-purpose, but has delighted people beyond the website's functional purpose of presenting information.

We cannot recommend Webplace highly enough and are thrilled to have partnered with them.

Robyn Diamond, Publications Manager (Project Manager)
Australian Academy of Science, July 2016
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