Making Dutch science accessible


The challenge

The Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences is the forum, voice and conscience of science in the Netherlands. Its institutes rank among the (inter)national top with their research and collections. The KNAW serves a variety of target groups through, events, the institutes' websites, advice, research and webinars: scientists, administrators, policymakers, employees, the press and citizens. The underlying platform is content-heavy and has many user stories. The question was a future-proof approach to unlock all types of content and activities through optimal customer journeys.


The new platform is the accessible hub for knowledge sharing, knowledge development and connection with society. The KNAW website brings together a restyling, improved layout and management of content, in line with the various target groups and the strategic ambitions of the KNAW. The new information structure ensures better performance of the content. There are more sessions per day, the bounce rate has decreased and engagement has increased because users can find what they are looking for.

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Customer journeys

In various online and physical workshops we worked in co-creation towards principles for the website. Based on different personas and customer journeys, combined with the input from different teams, we have determined what role the platform plays in their journeys.
By mapping the online ecosystem, we mapped out where else users come into contact with the KNAW and which links are made by management with external systems.

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Content first design

An interaction design was created based on analysis of the customer journeys and the objectives of the content types, with a focus on information structure. Content that promotes the role of the KNAW to a broad audience is prominently visible; the more specific the content becomes, the more context-dependent it is displayed. Different content types are connected by larger themes. The themes, together with the institutes and publications, form the most important parts of the website. By designing based on content goals (instead of topics or departments), usability for all target groups has greatly improved.

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Accessible identity for digital

The current corporate identity is less suitable for digital, so we refined various style elements. We opted for a more compact logo that remains easy to read on smaller screens. The color palette and its usability were tested for color contrasts and expanded with multiple shades. Accessibility has also been taken into account at a typographical level. The use of all caps serif fonts has been reduced and the use of the sans font is encouraged. This increases the readability of the platform.

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Consistency and freedom through icon set

Previously, people quickly turned to stock photography for images, which did not always produce the desired and consistent look. We came up with a solution for this in the form of a widely applicable icon set that can easily be expanded. This set can be used for various themes, topics, prizes and news. The solution offers consistency and freedom for content creators; In the CMS, a content creator can easily choose from the icon set for the list view and editorial images can be added within articles and publications.

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Structured search engine

For each content type (members, publications, meetings and news) we determined which fields are relevant to the search results and synchronized them directly to Algolia. Algolia is a search-as-a-service platform designed for use cases that require high-quality and relevant searches. In this way we can provide an optimal user experience for real-time filtering and searching through all content very efficiently and flexibly.

Clear related content

Funds and prizes, news, members, events and publications. One cannot exist without the context of the other. Therefore it's possible to have all content (in different forms) refer to each other automatically and manually. Content can be managed centrally: if you adjust it in one place, all other placements will follow.

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Watch meetings or rewatch them

KNAW organizes many events for different target groups. These webinars can now be found clearly in the agenda. Once the event is over and recorded, the visitor can easily find and view it. Within the agenda you can again filter by subject, location or other data.

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