Working with Bryn Mawr College’s Special Collections Department, we designed and built College Women, a curated collection of materials related to the history of women’s education from the Seven Sisters schools.
Setting Audience Priorities
College Women has a diverse group of audiences: researchers, students and teachers, and the general public. We began by facilitating discussions about those people, their needs, and Bryn Mawr’s goals. Our user experience activities helped Bryn Mawr decide to prioritize attracting new audiences, rather than focusing on researchers. This led us to a more visually-focused site that seamlessly unites materials across each school’s archive, emphasizing connections among items through themes, tags, and cross linking, encouraging users to explore.
Wrangling Multiple Data Sources
One of our biggest challenges was to gather and understand the collection data from seven unique institutions. Some were using online collection management systems, like ContentDM and Islandora, some without an accessible API, and others with just spreadsheets of data. We worked with the project team at Bryn Mawr to develop a metadata structure, based on Dublin Core, that was consistent for all institutions and allowed for a collective set of themes, categories, and filters.
We’re proud to have a continued relationship with Bryn Mawr, having worked on four projects with them over three years (and counting). As with all our clients, we see them as a true partner, and have supported their work beyond the launch of the sites, including promoting their news on social media and to local press, building static wireframes and visual designs to share early concepts with stakeholders and funders, and assisting with a successful proposal and presentation for the Keystone Digital Humanities Conference. College Women is an ongoing effort, and we’re looking forward to continuing our work with Bryn Mawr in the future.
Rather than simply carrying out our instructions, Interactive Mechanics was an active participant in the discussions about how best to achieve the functionality we were looking for. Having a developer who was an active partner in the planning process made for a much better site.
Director of Special Collections
Bryn Mawr College Library