Archives Unleashed and Archive-It’s ARCH Program Update

November 17th, 2021

by the Archive-It Team

Archives Unleashed and Archive-It continue our collaborative work integrating Archives Unleashed Cloud’s analytical tools with Archive-It’s web archiving platform in support of web archival research at scale. After several iterations guided by feedback from Archives Unleashed and Archive-It stakeholders, our combined team efforts have resulted in further functionality, dependability, and accessibility of the prototype. 

Additionally, members of our cohort research teams have already begun using the integrated tools to answer a number of fascinating research questions, with the intention of sharing their outcomes in May 2022. The newly minted ARCH (Archive Research Compute Hub)is well on its way to its official launch in Spring 2022.

How ARCH Supports Web Archival Research

ARCH unlocks the research potential of web archival collections with its ability to generate over a dozen datasets (including domain frequency statistics, hyperlink network graphs, and extracted full-text). Users are able to select their Archive-It collections for exploration and prompt dataset creation with the push of a button. Additionally, ARCH boasts several in-browser visualizations for exploring collection content and potential data outputs.

The ARCH Design Process

The ARCH Design process began with our wireframe and initial UI prototype. These designs were refined through several stages of user testing that gauged user experience with the interface’s overall design, functionality, language, and workflow.

Diagram showing the four stages of the ARCH design process

Four stages of the ARCH design process

The team has completed 3 phases of UX testing with a total of 5 phases planned prior to ARCH’s launch:

  • Jan/Feb 2021 – Concept Design Interviews (Video Call/Screen Share)

    We held concept design interviews with AU/IA “power users” to review our wireframe and discuss their ideal workflow.
  • May 2021 – Internal UX Testing (Survey)

    Internal UX Testing was conducted with AU and Archive-It team members of the first iteration of the prototype.
  • Aug/Sept 2021External UX Testing (Survey)

    A larger group of external users that included Advisory Board members, previous Concept Design interviewees, and “power users” were asked to provide feedback.
  • Jan 2022 – Early Adopters UX Testing (Survey)

    Following several upgrades to the system including updated navigation, new documentation, and accessibility improvements, we will widen our net to share ARCH with a larger audience of Archives Unleashed and Archive-It users for feedback.
  • Jan 2022 – Cohorts UX Testing (Video Call/Screen Share)

    Having been actively using ARCH for several months, we will conduct interviews with cohort teams on their use of ARCH tools as applied to their research activities.

Early Take-Aways

Overall, testers identified a positive ARCH experience, noting the benefits in being able to access collections and conduct initial analysis. Past users of Archives Unleashed Cloud and Archive-It also noted that the integration provided a familiar and dedicated environment for working with web archives, and offered opportunities for new research use cases.

The majority of feedback for improvement centered on updating the UI workflow and navigation with clearer supplemental language, accessibility-centered design choices, and modifying visualization features to improve usability. Feedback on documentation was largely positive, although a few key suggestions, for example an indexed glossary, were proposed to help users find information needed quickly. Such feedback has guided a significant upgrade and update to these elements in the interface that will be shared in the next phase of UX testing.

Next Steps

We are eager to begin the final two rounds of UX testing in early 2022. Along with sharing and verifying new implementations with testers, these final rounds will also serve as an opportunity to stress test ARCH with a wider audience before our public launch in the Spring of 2022.

For further information on our UX testing process and findings, please visit Archives Unleashed’s blog.