ECMWF improves web user experience

Helen Setchell


ECMWF has continued to enhance its web presence over the last year by refreshing its home page and other interfaces, publishing a directory of staff profiles, improving its eLibrary and web charts, and introducing eLearning. These changes are accompanied by other, less visible changes to improve web service delivery for our users.

Most users will have seen that we now have a consistent look and feel across the whole ECMWF web presence. This started with a refreshed home page incorporating both a live chart of the high-resolution mean sea level pressure and ensemble spread and more updates on our activities.

Some of these home page updates are publicised through integration with our new social media channels, Twitter and LinkedIn. ECMWF also now publishes a regular science blog written by ECMWF experts.

To make it easier to find and collaborate with ECMWF experts, we now have a directory of staff profiles on our website. Each profile provides information about that person’s expertise and outputs, linked to their publications in our eLibrary.

Website home page. The refreshed home page provides a live chart of the high-resolution mean sea level pressure and ensemble spread and more updates on our activities.

This summer, we are implementing a refresh of the eLibrary. A great deal of work has gone into reviewing and improving the catalogue in the background and the search interface at the front end, based on feedback from users. We are rolling out digital object identifiers (DOIs) and ORCID iDs to make it easier to find and share ECMWF publications, credit our authors, and manage and report on our publications.

As part of this work we have made ECMWF Newsletter feature articles available as stand-alone publications and provided access to eLearning materials. We will continue to develop and add new eLearning modules, which give learners flexibility in terms of when, where and how they want to learn to make the most of our products and services.

Chart products are continually being added to and improved based on user requests. ecCharts has seen many improvements: new layers, meteograms and styles have been added, as have new products, including ecPoint-Rainfall; lightning flash density; and charts that show the vertical structure of the atmosphere at a point.

Continued focus on the user

To help us decide where to focus these continuing web improvement efforts, we have been studying the most-used content across the ECMWF websites.

Nearly three in four page views are of pages which provide access to data (33%), the chart pages (22%), and documentation and support (17%).

Nearly all the remaining views (23%) are of pages which link users to what they are looking for, such as the ‘Forecasts’ landing page. However, users spend the least time on these navigation pages. This suggests we need to look closely at site navigation over the coming year to see if we can get users of our charts, data, and documentation and support to where they want to be in fewer clicks.

Looking at the time users spend on each page, chart pages are top of the list. This is likely due to the high level of interactivity on each chart page, something we are continually working to improve in terms of response times and features. Documentation and support come in second place, which coupled with the high hits tells us that it would be worthwhile focusing on making this content as quick and easy to use as possible, as well as improving the technical architecture to increase performance and reliability. Third place is held jointly by the pages which provide access to data – so we will be looking at improving how users discover and access data – and those which provide event and learning content.

If you have feedback about any of the above, or ideas about improving the ECMWF web presence, please contact