September 19, 2022

Strategic Communications special projects lead Laurel Kellner co-managed the launch of a new web system for the Lab with IT, starting with Elements and the Lab’s new homepage. Learn more about how this modernization of the Lab’s web presence elevates the Lab’s research mission, people, and capabilities in an engaging and accessible way in the interview below with Laurel.

Why was the Lab’s web presence redesigned and what are the goals of this project?

The Lab has grown and changed since our website was put in place, and so have the standards and expectations for digital communications. Our last significant web redesign was in 2006, so it was time to create a new web presence that better represents who we are today. When we started the project almost two years ago, we also recognized that the site was presented along organizational lines and you had to know something about the Lab already to be able to find what you wanted. That was a less-than-ideal experience for our web visitors.

The new site elevates what we care about most. It tells our story in a unified way. It calls out our cross-Lab connectivity. It shows the big impacts of our science and our leadership as an organization from our team science mentality. Our big goals were to build something that reflects the Lab’s excellence and enhances recruitment, partnerships, funding, and Lab culture.

Before we go to the next question I want to say a big thank you to my co-lead in IT, Pat Tura – and to all of the people across the Lab and beyond who made this possible. The people who talked with us from the very beginning, the people who pulled the content together and built these beautiful new pages, the people who tested the early versions of the site: it’s because of them we’re here.

How did you decide how to present the Lab?

We talked with more than 300 people over the past two years – people inside and outside of the Lab – to develop our strategy. We held focus groups, workshops, and a survey to identify our key audiences and what they wanted and needed. Initially, we identified nearly 30 different, important Lab audiences; we narrowed those down to four audience “need states,” represented by employees, funders and partners, the global scientific community, and the broader science-interested public. We knew these audiences wanted clear pathways to our research, our capabilities, and the people that make us a billion-dollar institution. We set out to build a system to meet those needs. We’re not done yet. Over the next year, we’ll be working with folks across the Lab on adopting the new system for many of our research areas and user facilities.

What is the user experience you hope to create with this new look and feel?

Before we talk about the details of user experience, I want to share one thing that we’re most proud of with this project, and that is the way that we elevated our ideals – like inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability, and pulling our talented people forward on this new website. Right there, the web visitor knows what we care about. Then there are the improvements we’ve made on essential modern web standards like accessibility and responsiveness. Our website is now a more inclusive place for people with disabilities who use assistive technology, for people who are more often on their phone than in front of a computer, for people who don’t know anything about us but want to learn more. Finally, we wanted people to be able to easily find what they are looking for.