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Revamped ScienceDirect® Journal Homepages Offer Superior Look, Feel, Functionality and Speed

By: , Posted on: September 10, 2018

As the last ScienceDirect® article noted, Elsevier is committed to constantly evaluating and upgrading the ScienceDirect experience. One shining example of this: the new ScienceDirect journal homepages. For nearly two years, Elsevier has been revamping the journal homepages based on a combination of input from researchers and trends in how research is undertaken. As a result, the ScienceDirect journal homepages now feature richer information, a clearer design and shorter download times.The journal homepages are also being integrated with other Elsevier platforms where journal content appears, offering researchers a more seamless, personal and social user experience.

Step One: Why Do Users Visit ScienceDirect Journal Pages?

Thanks to the high quality of Elsevier journals and their excellent reputation, the ScienceDirect journal pages have a loyal user base who considers the journal homepage their “go-to” place when conducting research.  But before overhauling the journal pages, Elsevier wanted to delve more deeply into who was using them and why.  According to Elsevier research, most users visit ScienceDirect journal pages for three reasons: researching, reading and authoring. Elsevier found that most ScienceDirect journal pages users seek to research a specific topic, conduct searches within a journal or both. Another large group of users browse journals to stay up to date or look for a specific article, volume or issue.  A small group of users go to ScienceDirect to assess the scope and/or quality of a journal in deciding whether to submit an article to that publication.

After analyzing each of these use cases, and how ScienceDirect could better address the needs of researchers, readers and authors, the ScienceDirect team worked tirelessly behind the scenes to create the best possible user experience no matter the reason for accessing journal content. To minimize any disruption and increase the simplicity of the upgrade, the new ScienceDirect journal pages were rolled out in groups. The first batch, which appeared in mid-2017, covered some 100 journals that include basic functionalities. Subsequent groups contained journals that have articles in press (with new Articles in Press pages); journals that have society links, logos, and a submit link; journals that have special issues (with new Special Issues pages); and a blend of virtual special issues with regular special issues.

Journal Homepage “Look” Serves Users More Effectively – and Satisfies the Need for Speed

Elsevier changed the look of the journal homepages by implementing the “card concept ,” a design based around a series of rectangular panels which contain specific information types. This design makes it easier and quicker for all users to find journal information as well as related links. Importantly, the new design also places an emphasis on accessibility for users with disabilities. It’s all about ease of use: researchers on ScienceDirect spend less time trying to find information from journals, and more time using what they’ve found to accomplish the task at hand.

As an additional bonus, this smarter and more economical arrangement of information has resulted in shorter loading times for journal homepages. The new pages load approximately 10 times faster than their previous version. In fact, new pages will usually load in one second, depending upon the user’s computer and bandwidth!

Improved Responsiveness Aligns with Research Trends

Elsevier found that many researchers, readers and authors use mobile devices to access ScienceDirect, as they do other professional and personal applications and sites. Knowing this, the new journal pages were created to be fully responsive. They now scale well on any screen size , helping to support research wherever it occurs.

Identifying – and Returning to – Journals Now Easier Than Ever

The modern and clean design of the new journal pages positions each journal appropriately in context, without sacrificing clarity and effective navigation. With its own custom background color, each journal’s unique identity  is established and emphasized. This makes it easier for researchers to identify the source of the article initially…and return to the same journal for further information if desired. ScienceDirect users now have no doubt that they’ve landed on a specific page in a specific journal! This attention to detail also makes the journals more attractive to potential new users, who can now more easily find features like a “Follow Journal” button.

Better Presentation for Special Journal Issues

When it comes to special issues, the new journal pages have further benefits to offer. Most notably, the pages no longer distinguish between traditional and virtual special issues (VSIs). Elsevier has added a special issue archive page which lists all special issues ever published in a journal, whether traditional or virtual. Virtual special issues also are more discoverable on search engines, thanks to the “blurb” which is now included in the page’s metadata. The new presentation also allows for high-quality sharing of VSIs on social media .



ScienceDirect Users Like What They See

Elsevier elicited feedback from users under test conditions prior to the roll-out of the new journal pages, and the reception was largely positive. Of the five studies conducted – four involving researchers and one with librarians – none identified significant usability issues with the new journal pages. Today, with 100 percent of Elsevier’s journals released in the new format, the comments are reflecting what researchers said they wanted:

–          “I like the clean lay out and the fast loading. Good job!”
–          “Easy to find the article!”
–          “I like the new format.  It is more modern and pleasant to look at.”
–          “easier to see sections”
–          “Great to see the articles in press more visible”
–          “Quick, easy to navigate and shortens the process of getting to the specific article I want.”

This first major revamp of journal homepages on ScienceDirect will continue, as Elsevier adds more pertinent user information, relevant tools and even better navigation. Input from users is handled with “priority,” so researchers, readers and authors should not hesitate to make comments and suggestions.

Who Could Forget About Books on ScienceDirect?

Elsevier traces its roots as a book publisher back to the late 1500s. As a result, the journal pages are not the only landing site on ScienceDirect that has been refreshed. The next article in this series will detail the updated book homepages. More than 27 thousand Elsevier titles have been migrated to the new ScienceDirect technology platform and redesigned to optimize discoverability and the overall user experience.  Watch for more information in the next edition of SciTech Connect!




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