Improving the User Experience: Why, What, How?

Mallory Robertson's picture

2019 is ORCID’s  Year of the Researcher, and a key element of this is improving the user experience. It’s also the focus of my new role as ORCID’s first User Experience (UX) Designer. I onboarded in early February, and have started to work closely with our researchers as a user advocate and design strategist. Over the next couple months, you’ll notice changes  in the user interface (UI) as we evolve the ORCID website.

But what is user experience? And how do we design for it?

The user experience encompasses every interaction you have with ORCID -- not just the UI (our site, and what you see on the screen), but also anything from interaction design, the language we use on the site, the way we structure our information architecture, and how easy or difficult all of that is to use and understand. With 6.5m users already -- and 5,000 more registering every day -- it’s critical that we make the ORCID UX the best it can possibly be.

UX design differs from UI design in that we incorporate research as a basis for our design and technical decisions. This is vital because it takes assumptions out of the product development process, and ensures that we are capturing needs and expectations of people who are using the ORCID Registry.

We kicked off our first research initiative at the National Postdoctoral Association conference in mid-April, which generated really useful feedback and insights. Thank you to everyone who swung by our booth and helped us with usability testing and our five-second testing! It was so uplifting and motivating to chat with such passionate, opinionated people who are enthusiastic about ORCID’s mission. As part of that event, we got some first impressions on a new homepage that we’ve been working on, and the feedback thus far has been great.

I wanted to give a sneak peak of that new homepage with you all now.

The homepage is, in most cases, the first page that people see, so it’s important that we make a good impression. On our old homepage, our message was strong, but it had elements that competed for attention. We’ve restructured the content so that it follows a strong page hierarchy, in turn telling more of a story.

Our goal was to evoke a mood and feel that represents what we strive to be as an organization:open, transparent, and community driven. We hope we hit the mark!

We have a lot more improvements planned in the upcoming months. As we prioritize our research initiatives, I  invite anyone interested to sign up to help with ORCID UX research. This may include one-on-one interviews, quick preference tests, usability testing, and many other types of research. If you’re interested, please email

You can also share your suggestions for new ORCID features and functionality (and vote on other users’ ideas!) on our iDeasForum.