I worked with Emerging Scholars Interdisciplinary Network (ESIN) as a User Experience Designer and Social Computing Analyst from September 2009 to July 2010 before joining Wolfram Research. ESIN is an interactive website incorporating tools and resources that connect over 720 interdisciplinary investigators nationwide.


When I joined ESIN my main task was to look at the user activity on the site and propose changes, tweaks and modification to the current system, so as to encourage and support activity. A lot of this included,

  1. Going through user logs and analytics to see how users were using the system.
  2. Interviewing a number of members on the network, both who were very active and others who hadn’t logged on for a long time to get a view of features that worked and others that were missing.
From the analysis we found that,
  1. Users were using the system at a personal level without any  group interactions even though there were closed groups to collaborate with
  2. Users were having a hard time finding others with similar research interest
  3. Some active users had to use other systems to supplement their work on our site, including a messaging systems which supported real time back and forth
  4. Certain features were available on the site but had restrictions like the email system did not support attachments which was necessary to pass papers around
In order to address the problems I proposed adding two important systems apart from small modifications to other systems. I designed the flow/interactions of these two systems to fit the current branding/theme for the site,

  1. A recommender system to recommend colleagues to individual members and members to group chairs

  2. A chat system to enhance engagement and support real time feedback
Since the current site was in Cake PHP we did not find a good out of the box system to support these features. In the meantime small updates to the site required an offsite developing company to make changes. We decided that a better way to move forward will be to port the current site to Drupal. This also gave us the opportunity to redesign the site to give it a web2.0 look and feel.

We started off by creating wireframes for the site since the IA and functionality was already very clear. We made small changes to the navigation to allow for greater reach to content.

I also did the graphic design of the site. Some samples of my redesigned interface for ESIN is shown below. The concept was to give the website a modern look and feel and at the same time retain the original branding.


Other supporting documents

ESIN-Drupal-Requirements (A requirement list created to find a good drupal developer for the site)

ESIN Drupal features matrix (Check list to see if the states for different features is correctly implemented)