Web usability can loosely be defined as the ease with which someone can achieve a particular goal using a website. This might be buying a book, paying for a TV licence, registering for an event, or commenting on a historical source. Whatever the activity, the system ought to be easy to learn, function as expected and be pleasant to use. Meeting these criteria can have a powerful effect: a more engaged user base can lead to higher conversion rates, repeat visits and recommendations. Success in this area can bring huge benefits for the individuals and institutions developing digital resources, for the audience for those resources, and in the case of digital humanities, for the discipline more widely.

We’re delighted to announce that JISC have recognised the Institute’s central role within the field of the transformation of research in the digital humanities by awarding two sets of funding under the its Digital Infrastructure programme (01/11). First, British History Online will become a case study informing evidence-based guidance and a resource to support other projects in their approach to usability. Second, the Institute’s pilot collaborative editing project, ReScript, will develop both research and content creation interfaces.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be contacting many of our registered users and conducting several rounds of short tests. We’ll also publicise our requests through Twitter, this blog and news channels so all interested parties can participate. If you’d like to know more about the project, or would like to participate in our research, please visit our project page.