Simplifying complex search through data dating back 200 years and stored in an MCG-sized warehouse
Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is an archives centre for the State Government of Victoria, holding public records dated from the present day back to the 1830s.
With over a 100 kilometres of public records being held by PROV, it is of utmost importance that researchers and site visitors can easily find the records they are looking for. Although an extensive online search tool was present, it was a cumbersome process to find relevant records. The system did not assist users to find the relevant information, nor was it intuitive or user-friendly. The problem lied in the breadth and extent of records that are archived. Although the archive centre holds so many records, it had to be made accessible to users who wanted to view them.
As such, the PROV reception desk would receive numerous calls per day requesting assistance with finding relevant records. Along with this dire scenario, the existing PROV website was also difficult to manage.
Webplace extensively liaised with PROV to confirm 5 distinct search journey types, whilst PROV internally continued to index their records to ensure that the SOLR search resulted in accurate results.
Several steps were taken to ensure that the new site supported users with their record search journey once they reached the PROV website:
- Several iterations of 5 distinct search journeys, with over 10 interactive wireframe templates to depict the new process
- A comprehensive usability testing exercise with 10 users to test the new functionality, layout and structure of the site
Drupal was the chosen CMS for this project, and Webplace developed custom content types to assure ease of content management. Webplace also trained 18 content writers within PROV to ensure that they would be confident in updating content on an ongoing basis.
The new PROV site not only got a makeover from a visual perspective, but more importantly profoundly made the record search journey much easier.