Monasterium.net is a collaborative virtual archive with more than 640,000 primary sources from more than 100 European archives. Naturally, processing, organizing and displaying such a vast amount of content in a single website is a massive task. While substance-wise, Monasterium is still top-notch, the website itself has gotten a little long in the tooth. Also, some features implemented to help and guide users had the opposite effect and made the archive more unintuitive. That’s where we came in.

We were asked to redesign the frontend of the website to make it easily accessible for new users while maintaining all functionality veteran users have come to expect and rely on. So that’s what we did.

I for one had one principle in mind all along: It needs to just work. So instead of making it pretty, I focused on organizing elements and tweaking user flows in a way that the structure of the website assists the user in finding the desired primary sources. I also improved some already existing features such as the customizable search results and the register search.

As everything has to be accessible on mobile too these days, I also created a mobile version of the website, which turned out to be even more challenging that the desktop and tablet ones, as there is only so much screen space on mobile devices, yet exactly the same amount of content to be displayed in a form that is intuitive and not overwhelming. I came up with a concept that is optimized to be practical. The client seemed to like it – at least they awarded me the first place.

Unfortunately, explaining the whole concept in more detail would go beyond the scope of this blog entirely, so I’ll just close with saying many thanks to our professor and supervisor Melitta Moschik.

Text & Photography: Simon Gostentschnigg