POST: The Wartime Films Project: Taking a User-Centered Design Approach at NARA

Jon Voss (Historypin) has written a post for NARAtions, the blog of the U.S. National Archives, the first in a series of blog posts aimed to go “behind the scenes to explore how the National Archives is taking a user-centered design approach toward engagement on a major digitization initiative of a unique collection of Wartime films and rarely seen still images from WWI.”

Voss’s post outlines the work done over the past few years and how NARA was able to engage in a new project design process:

“The importance of this work called out for a co-designing approach with particular audiences with whom we wanted to engage, so that these films would be discovered and reused by as wide a public as possible. The first step in a user-centered design approach is to identify and gain empathy for your users. To that end, NARA teamed up with Historypin to develop an in-depth process of audience analysis and engagement.”

The group focused on conducting interviews with individuals from nine audience groups:

  • “Teachers/teacher trainers
  • Scholars (professors, grad students)
  • Local groups (community groups, history groups, veterans groups)
  • Cultural organizations and local authorities (learning networks, cultural affairs departments, local humanities organizations, NPS, etc.)
  • Libraries/archives/museums
  • Filmmakers
  • Producers (freelance, Hollywood, PBS)
  • Creatives (artists, designers, gamers, musicians)
  • History enthusiasts (interns, volunteers, hackers, Amara transcribers)”

The full report, “Encouraging Reuse of NARA Wartime Moving Image Archives: Steps Toward Meaningful Engagement,” is available through the blog post, and future posts will further analyze the results and project process.

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Shaherzad Ahmadi, Talea Anderson, Shannon Davis, Joshua Finnell, Shilpa Rele, Bobby Smiley, Sveta Stoytcheva, and Ashley Zengerski (Editors-at-large for the week), Caitlin Christian-Lamb (Editor for the week), Sarah Potvin (Site Editor), and Caro Pinto, Roxanne Shirazi, and Patrick Williams (dh+lib Review Editors).