Since the launch of the Beta site, the MDE is now in a cycle of continuous improvements
Since the new-look Marine Data Exchange (MDE) was launched in June 2021, our development team has been working away in the background, listening to your feedback, fixing bugs and adding new features to the portal and public websites.
We know that the MDE needs to continually evolve. We are adopting an agile approach, where each change is focused on a small, manageable area of the MDE and focussed over a two week time period, which we're calling a sprint. This allows our development team to be flexible and reduces the risk of large updates breaking the site. It also allows us to respond to your feedback and resolve issues as they arise.
We have developed the MDE in a modular way so that we can add things in easily and take things out just as quickly if you don't like them.
We know that we won't always get things right, but we hope that we have set the MDE up so that we can try new approaches, learn from mistakes and continue to develop the MDE from strength to strength.
Your feedback is important.
- Updated search functionality to provide relevant filtering prompts
- Re-design of the filter options on the search results page. Making them clearer and more accessible as you scroll through search results
- Re-design of the survey summaries to provide more detail on individual packages, and the ability to explore the file and folder structure of survey deliverables, including size of files.
What you've said : What we've done
We've received your feedback and we've listened.
Alot of the feedback results in bug fixes and other small developments, but the feedback also leads to us ideating and releasing some major changes to fuctionality. These include:
"When searching using free text in the search bar, the results that I received often include a lot of non-relevant series."
Being able to easily search for data is vital for the user experience, so we’ve added a ‘suggested filter’ to the search bar. When searching for ‘birds’ you now have the option to only see those series which are tagged with the theme ‘Birds’. We’re also working with Microsoft to develop the Azure search algorithm further to improve search results, for example by developing the cognitive search functionality.
"It would be very useful to see the contents of the data packages before you download them."
We have exposed the file/folder information for each package, allowing you to assess the contents of a package before downloading it. We will continue to develop this to include more information and data previews; increasing your confidence in the search results before you download the data.
"The website doesn’t function very well when viewed via a phone or tablet."
It's true, we focussed on developing a site that functioned optimally for those visiting from a computer. However, we know that you want to view the site on a phone or tablet and so, as a minimum, we are now including mobile/tablet scaling tests in all new functionality releases. Alongside this, we're also exploring how you want to interact with the site when visiting from your phone; do you want access to the same information or do you want us to streamline the detail so that it's easier to view on a smaller screen, for example.
What we are focussing on right now
We'll continue to make small tweaks to improve functionality and user experience, but we'll also be working on developing some new functionality, which in the Agile world are called 'Epics' and we couldn't agree more. We'll speak to our testers whilst we're developing these major updates and so please get in touch if you would like to test the new functionality before it's released, feed in new ideas and suggestions, or simply want to ensure that the new releases work for you.
Some of the Epics that we're currently work on include:
Introducing a Spatial Search Interface
We know that you want a map and that you want the data to tell a story through more interactive content, so we're developing a map but we're taking the time to bring you the spatial search functionality that we've heard you asking for. If we've heard right, this is slightly more than just a map. We also want to ensure that the MDE remains accessible for all and so we'll be ensuring that the new spatial search interface adheres to our Accessibility standards, but that it also caters for users from all users (technical or otherwise). This is no easy task and so we'll need your help to iterate this new functionality in the right direction. We're learning from our international peers, but would love to hear from you if there are any sites/maps that you abslutely love to use.
Highlights, Data Stories and Previews
We are working on how we capture all of the key documents, maps, graphs, images and findings from a survey, without you needing to download and trawl through the data yourself. We will do this through our document cracking functionality, which allows us to pull key image and tables from reports and package them as a data highlight, improving easy access to the key findings within a series.
This will bring us one step closer to data previews, the ability to view PDF documents immediately and to highlight key datasets/reports from a survey. We'll work with our offshore customers, the providers of data, to improve the content of these data stories, highlights and previews. Helping you to get one step closer to the original data collection process.
Improved intgration with other marine data portals
We know that there is a great marine data community here in the UK and we are committed to ensuring the alignment of the MDE with the existing network. We are working with MEDIN to ensure that the MDE is discoverable through the MEDIN Portal, but we'll also work with the wider network of data portals to ensure that the MDE data can be integrated with other systems.