Redesigned DLR web portal online
Finished at last! The redesigned web portal for the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is ready to receive the first of its close to 500,000 visitors per month. We have been working on the redesign for some time now, and are more than pleased with the result.
In addition to the design changes, the DLR website also has technical innovations. With a balanced mix of multimedia elements, attractive images and a user-friendly interface, the new design guides visitors through the DLR research topics of aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security.
Video: Take a tour of the new DLR Web Portal. (Credit: DLR, CC-BY.)
How it all began
In a survey conducted prior to the redesign process, our users provided clear requirements that we have been implementing, together with the designers and programmers, over the course of a little more than a year, and have (almost) completed as we go live today.
Our users asked for more images, videos and multimedia content. We found that DLR research topics needed to be presented better for young adults (the excellent DLR_next) (in German) is already available for our youngest users), information about DLR projects needed to stand out more and the navigation and structure of the website needed to be improved.
From our perspective, the user interface and design needed a more emotional appeal and the various presentation formats such as news, photo galleries, press releases, blogs, videos and podcasts, and social media content had to be made readily accessible. In addition, the redesign needed to incorporate all the content of the 'old' DLR main portal and its associated theme portals, which address subjects such as Earth observation, the International Space Station, Mars and Saturn, and a press portal, which can be accessed at www.dlr.de/press.
Image: The 'old' DLR Web Portal on 11 July 2011, just before 'going live' with the new design. (Credit: DLR.)
Obviously, a project of this magnitude does not happen overnight. www.DLR.en is the primary web presence for DLR and, therefore, its main point of entry. It contains tens of thousands of pages and provides access to more than 60 web portals for DLR’s institutes and research facilities.
The development of such a project requires long-term planning and careful implementation. Numerous project meetings have to be held, the technical limitations and associated problems highlighted and resolved, staff must be trained and editorial content reviewed and transferred. One of the biggest challenges encountered was maintaining an overview of the complete organisation and keeping to schedule.
A flexible, motivated team is essential for this. From our side, experience in dealing with large-scale projects was a must. On the part of the service providers, it was not only essential for them to identify with DLR and its specialist areas, but to be creative and possess the necessary technical expertise. And, of course, we were looking for good teamwork. We would like to thank those involved for their commitment and collaboration.
These partners have performed valuable work and are or have been heavily involved in the execution and implementation of the entire redesign project:
- UNICBLUE (formerly Synap), a creative agency from Gelsenkirchen, whose designer, Namik Celik, developed the design according to our requirements;
- Werum, a software company from Lüneburg, responsible for creating the templates and for most of the programming;
- ContentXXL, from Nuremberg, the creator of our content management system, who worked constantly on development of the software and devised custom solutions for DLR;
- T-Systems Solutions for Research, who provided technical expertise for developing and maintaining the IT infrastructure required for a website of this magnitude;
- EJR-Quartz, our English language editorial services provider, who ensure that the editorial content is delivered in mother-tongue quality to our international audience;
- last but not least, the numerous project participants from DLR's Corporate Communications Department, who have tirelessly 'dug up' content, edited and produced it (twice).
The highpoint has of course been the 'going live' of the new DLR Web Portal, but the project continues. There are additional phases, such as the redevelopment of the 60 web portals for the DLR institutes and facilities, and bringing a mobile version for smartphones online. These project phases are already under way and will be completed in the near future.
The redesigned DLR Web Portal will soon be put through its paces in a usability laboratory, where volunteers will test the website. This will almost certainly give rise to a few corrections and adjustments to the site or its user interface. I will publish the results of the tests in this blog.
Your opinion is important to us
Please tell us what you think of the new website; we welcome your opinion. You can use the comment feature on this blog or on the new DLR Web Portal at any time.