Improvements on the 2012 ICPSR Web Site
The new ICPSR site is actually six discrete sites:
- Find & Analyze Data
- Deposit Data
- Membership in ICPSR
- Data Management
- The ICPSR Summer Program
- Instructional Resources (formerly OLC)
Because ICPSR serves many different audiences and goals, it makes sense to have sites devoted to those goals, rather than forcing users to wade through a broad list of options mostly irrelevant to their immediate task.
To provide a concrete example, the new Find & Analyze Data site is very strictly focused on graduate students, undergrads, and researchers, and is designed solely for the task of acquiring and utilizing data. It's main navigation is quite concise:
- Find Data
- Search/Compare Variables
- Find Publications
- Resources for Students
- Get Help
Revise your Search
Your query now appears in a search box atop the search results page (and the study home page), so that you can easily revise your search (or perform a new search).
We also added a "back to search results" link atop the study home page, and the ability to move to the previous/next search result, so you don't have to go back to the search results page to look at the next study that matched your search.
We've added auto-complete to the search box. This means that if you type "he" it will present a list of matching terms, such as "health care." The user can select a term, or simply keep typing.
Consistency Across Searches
We've made minor changes to ensure that the study, bibliography, and variable searches are more consistent. Date facets on these searches now display the same, and the sort/display options are now the same.
We've improved SOLR's handling of synonyms by providing it with information from our thesaurus. If you search on "baby", it will automatically returns results that have the term "infant."
Group by Series
Series results are still grouped on our search results page, but we have added an option to "ungroup" those results, if the user prefers.
Matching Variables in Search Results
On the search results page, we now give an indication of how many variables match your search query.
The "Where does my search term appear?" function has been removed, as many of the changes on the study home page now make it much easier to determine how a study matched one's query.
We've made a number of changes to the facets:
- The facets are now on the left side of the page.
- The facets now allow you to select items sequentially within the same facet. I.e., you can now do multiple subject facets.
- We added a Data Format facet.
- We removed the Author facet.
- We changed the order of the facets.
- Selected facet values now appear in the left column, not above the search results.
Study Home Page
The study home page has been completely revised. Our goal is to make the study home page more like an amazon.com product page, where all the available information on the study is listed on one page. We believe this will improve our search engine optimization (SEO) and will make it easier for users to quickly see how the study matched their query. Some changes include:
- Because the page is now longer, we've added in-page navigation on the left; this navigation floats downward as the user scrolls down the page.
- For studies with restricted data, the restrictions field now appears in the Access Notes, if the user clicks on the link to toggle its display.
- The Quick Download is now part of the left navigation, and floats down as the user scrolls.
- Browse documentation and download options are now embedded the study home page.
- The study citation has its own section which includes the persistent URL and export options.
- We've added functionality such that we can now display related instructional resources on the study home page, even if they're not resources created by ICPSR as part of our Resources for Instructors site.
- We've added series- and study-level breadcrumbs atop the page so the user can more easily find his/her context.
Matching Variables and Citations on the Study Home Page
- The "view related literature" link has been expanded; we've added options to search within the citations for that study and we've added a display for citations that match the user's query.
- We've similarly improved the variables display to show variables that matched the user's query.
Improvements to Bibliography Exports
There are now checkboxes beside bibliography search results, with which users can create customized RIS exports (as opposed to the entire result set).
One of the more exciting additions to the new website is the ability to compare up to five variables side-by-side. Checkboxes now appear to the left of variables on the search results screen, as well as a "compare" and "clear all" button.
We've radically pruned our FAQs down from ~150 FAQs to ~25 FAQs. Having too many FAQs makes it more difficult for users to find answers and decreases the likelihood of them actually being used.