Client: The Allen Institute for Brain Science
Year: 2014
Platform: Responsive Web


The Allen Institute for Brain Science wanted to redesign their website, so it communicated the vision that encompasses the amazing things they're doing for the neuroscience community. The Allen Institutes primary focus is on Big Science and Open Science. 

The Allen Institute has been laying foundational work and mapping the entire brain’s neural pathways; you could call it the Google maps of the brain. The brain map was a big initiative for the Allen Institute, and it’s an open source platform that anyone can use to kickstart their research. Having this foundational work is huge for the neuroscience community, and we wanted to help bring more awareness to a wider audience for the great work done and other groundbreaking projects at the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

My Role

I was the lead UX on this project, and the entire team consisted of a creative director, two UX designers, one visual designer, two developers, and a project manager.

It was my job to ensure that we surfaced the right needs from key stakeholders, developed assumptive personas for the intended audience, conducting an experience mapping workshop, developing the new architecture for the website, and guiding the other UX designer through the wireframing process.

Our Approach

We teamed up with the key stakeholders as the Allen Institute to better understand the ask, and dug into the details for what the company is, does, and their vision. We started by conducting a series of 1:1 interviews with people from different disciplines to better understand the what individuals are doing, what they are passionate about, and ultimately, the culture that brought them to the Allen Institute. The insights from the cross-disciplinary interviews would serve as guidance for what type of content would surface across the website. 

Assumptive Personas

We followed up by conducting 1:1 interview with key stakeholders to better understand their current audience and the wider audience they want to reach through their website. 

We developed three different assumptive personas based on the insights we gained their perspective for who the audience is, and what their needs, motivations, and pain-points are when coming to the Allen Institute website or brain map platform. 

Sketching the user experience

After our research, we dug into the content and the current site architecture to begin mapping the new page structure based on what we've learned about their goals and assumptive user personas. After coming up with proposed structure, we conducted a few card sorting activities to validate our direction to move forward with confidence. When we defined the IA page structure we dug into the page architecture. We started lean by sketching out the screens to plan and organize the content on the website.

Bringing it together

Through some iterative cycles, we landed on the right story we wanted to tell on every page of the site. From there we started to see how that story would flow across multiple platforms, desktop, tablet, and mobile. From here, we started to build out each touchpoint of the website experience through a series of wireframes.

Bringing it to life

Little by little as we worked through the UX, the visual designer would start taking the screens that were designed and iteratively starting to bring it to life the visuals.  Through the process, we would make minor adjustments at key interactions points to enhance the components on the page to make a richer experience. What we ended up with was refreshed website for the Allen Institute for Brain Science that gave the users a peak into the great things happening there and engaging people from the community in a much clearer way.