Berkeley Lab Foundation

To study the production and user experience of scientific software to develop a design system for scientific software user interfaces

  • Amount $397,544
  • City Oakland, CA
  • Investigator Lavanya Ramakrishnan
  • Year 2022
  • Program Technology
  • Sub-program Better Software for Science

In most contemporary software development, investments in user experience (UX) design are viewed as highly prudent expenditures that result in products that are intuitive, meaningful, and relevant for users. When it comes to scientific software projects, however, it’s rare to find a UX designer amongst any core set of contributors. Recent research on the topic suggests that greater investment in the UX of a piece of software (especially early in the lifecycle of a project) could have large positive downstream impacts: easier adoption of software, lowered barriers to its use by a broader set of scientists with different backgrounds and levels of training, diminishing maintenance costs, and healthy cycles of user feedback informing how to build more useful software.   This grant funds a project lead by Lavanya Ramakrishnan at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBL), to help codify how to effectively implement UX design in scientific software projects through the study of LBL’s extensive corpus of UX research on myriad scientific collaborations. Ramakrishnan’s team will use the research to generalize best practices for implementing UX into the development of a diverse typology of software types (i.e., data pipelines vs. instrument control systems), and then prototype a UX design system to be used for common scientific tasks and workflows.

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