Australian Academy of Science


The Australian Academy of Science established the highly successful Nova: science in the news website in 1997 containing topics covering the breadth of scientific disciplines. Its primary goal is to provide jargon-free, accessible scientific information on topical subjects to students, teachers and interested members of the general public. Webplace were tasked with not only rejuvenating the website but to reassess its audience, purpose and content delivery framework.

Our solution

Webplace began to define a baseline for a successful outcome by consulting with scientists, fellows, Academy staff, partner organisations and representative users; and reviewed globally renowned science publishers. 

In developing the new multi-layered content framework and website User Experience (UX) the biggest challenge we faced was finding the best way to present the research, data and related artefacts in a clear and digestible manner without compromising on the integrity of the information. 

Webplace enrolled users for testing throughout and post delivery to confirm users were disseminating content and interacting with supporting content types (glossary, quizzes, videos, Ask a Fellow). We tested wireframes, designs and development deliverables but also against common benchmarks like the System Usability Scale (score of 82.2, well above the industry average of 68) and Net Promoter Score (score of 13) which suggested the site ranks highly in usability and that nova’s users are very satisfied. Both scores remain benchmarks which will be used to measure usability and satisfaction into the future.

The website is WCAG Level AA compliant to assist those with a disability and was implemented on the Drupal CMS which manages eight unique content types. 



Testimonial excerpt from Robyn Diamond, Publications Manager (Project Manager), Australian Academy of Science:

"Prior to launch a second round of user testing showed that not only does the site rank highly in usability with a System Usability Scale of 82.2 (well above the industry average of 68), but the Net Promoter Score of 13 suggests that there is a positive sense of satisfaction and loyalty among our target audience. Upon launching the site we received genuine congratulations from staff members, members of the public, other science communication professionals, teachers, and scientists. 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.

Without any paid advertising or arranged partnerships, we easily accumulated over two hundred Facebook followers and fifty Twitter followers within the first few days of delving into social media, indicating an excitement for the site and what's to come. We also received over half a dozen messages from expert scientists who are looking to get involved and collaborate with us, signalling that they'd love to be a part of this exciting, appealing website. We already know that the former Nova was a tool to educate students, journalists, advisers, teachers, and the general public. With our new website, we are confident that we will be able to reach a larger audience, stimulate their curiosity, and delight them into learning more about the world around us.

We approached the project with Webplace as equal partners and because of this achieved a fabulous result. We cannot recommend Webplace highly enough and are thrilled to have partnered for them for the Nova redesign project.”


Website Award Nomination

In November 2015 the nova project was nominated as a finalist in the Australian Graphic Design Association's (AGDA) 'Best Digital Design' award category. Navigate to to see the entry.

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