Nov 282012

As part of the SUNCAT Redevelopment we reported on last week, we will be introducing a new contemporary design for the SUNCAT web interface.

A number of designs were produced by EDINA’s in-house designer, based on a design brief submitted by the SUNCAT team based on

Feedback suggested that the current design was well liked but was starting to look somewhat dated so some key elements of the brief included:

  • Keeping the SUNCAT logo and colours for continuity
  • Keeping the search functionality at the heart of the design
  • Incorporating other elements of the site into the search homepage to reflect a more portal style approach
  • Trying to keep the design clean and simple.

After the initial set of designs was discussed and adapted by the SUNCAT team, the selection was narrowed to two preferred designs which were then circulated to EDINA colleagues for comment.

We were then keen to consult our SUNCAT contributors to involve them in the final selection and to gather feedback which could be incorporated into the ultimate design. A short online survey was made available to SUNCAT contributing libraries for a week at the beginning of November. Sixty responses were received in total, from at least 26 different libraries.

Seventy-two percent of respondents preferred the design displayed below, one percent liked both designs equally and happily none of the respondents reported that they didn’t like either design. The main reasons for preferring the design below included:

  • Simpler, cleaner and more user friendly
  • Preferred colours and images
  • Layout of search and filters on the screen
  • Having a map of contributing libraries and a newsfeed easily accessible on the homepage
New Design for SUNCAT Interface

We will now be looking at some of the suggestions on how to improve the design, such as:

  • Changing the colour of the “Find Now” to better differentiate it from the limit options
  • Moving the Advanced Search and Browse buttons closer to the main search box
  • Moving the Reset button to beneath the “Find Now” button.
The new design will form part of the beta release of the new platform in spring 2013, please let us know if you have any comments about SUNCAT’s new look in the meantime.
SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at
 November 28, 2012  Posted by at 11:56 am Developments Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Nov 212012

EDINA has embarked on a programme to redevelop the existing SUNCAT search platform. The impetus for this redevelopment emerged from a long held desire to not only provide enhanced functionality but also to be able to be more responsive to user feedback regarding suggested improvements.

Work commenced on the first phase of this development in spring 2012 as EDINA developers started to design and implement an entirely new bespoke user interface for the SUNCAT service.

In this initial development phase SUNCAT will continue to rely on Ex Libris’ Aleph software to load and de-duplicate contributing libraries’ serials records. The web interface however, will be developed in-house leveraging the open source enterprise search platform, Solr to facilitate highly efficient searching across the millions of SUNCAT records.

The developers considered a number of options to facilitate record searching, but Solr proved to be the best solution for dealing with the complex issues around searching and displaying records grouped into matched sets, a central component of the SUNCAT service. Moving to this open source platform should allow EDINA to have greater control and flexibility over the functionality and presentation of SUNCAT.

One key area of improvement, which will be available from the outset, is the ability to limit search results restricted to holdings from multiple libraries and locations. These limits will include all the individual locations of each of our contributing libraries, rather than just locations at an institutional level as with the current service. Another benefit will be that users will be able to select multiple locations and/or institutions to limit their search by, so giving them great flexibility. The limits will now also ensure that users only see the holdings from locations or institutions they are interested in, as any extraneous holdings will no longer be displayed. These improvements mean that in the future EDINA will be able to provide customised views onto the service, configurable at both the individual user level, and also at a higher geographic, subject specialist or consortial level.

The improvements to the geographic limits are particularly important for the mobile application which is also currently in development. EDINA conducted some early user testing with a small group of volunteers earlier in the year and it is hoped that a beta version will be made more widely available early in 2013.

Other key areas of new functionality will follow throughout the next year. The SUNCAT team have identified a wish list of features based on user feedback and also on a survey of some of the best functionality available in commercial search engines, library and union catalogues in the UK, Europe and beyond.

The feedback and survey also informed the design brief for the redeveloped service. Having considered a number of designs the SUNCAT team have narrowed the selection down to a few favoured options and we are currently consulting with our contributing libraries to decide on the final design.

It is hoped that a beta version of the new platform will be available in spring 2013, when we will be asking our users to provide feedback on progress. We hope that you will approve of the changes to come!

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at
 November 21, 2012  Posted by at 4:30 pm Developments Tagged with: , , , , ,  No Responses »
Feb 112008

SUNCAT’s web pages have been given a new look as part of a makeover of the entire EDINA website. The changes relate purely to the visual aspect of the site with the structure remaining the same. Go to check them out and let us know what you think.

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at
 February 11, 2008  Posted by at 1:36 pm Developments Tagged with: ,  No Responses »