Building an Information Architecture for Collaboration

The iPlant Collaborative was created with a $50 Million National Science Foundation grant. The goal was to create a portal to support the community of plant and computing researchers working on a “Grand Challenge”. Brenton was hired as the UX evangelist with the mission was to build a web site and collaboration tools for plant scientists, educators, and students using supercomputers, to enable new scientific discoveries without needing command line knowledge.

Brenton began by facilitating the problem definition, the collaboration between people and digital environments, our User Experience. Once we had a clear focus on what we needed to build,  Brenton divide up the work, and assigned team members a few sites to conduct a ‘competitive analysis’ to understand what worked and what did not work. Meanwhile, personas were mapped to grand challenge leads, plant scientists, computing scientists, educators, students, and NSF sponsors.

Multiple card sorting exercises were ran and along with use cases, an information architecture emerged (IA). A final design went live.


We created site to support the diverse user populations of computer scientists, plant scientists and students. In 2013, the NSF was excited by the program results extended the program for an additional 5 years and another $50 Million.

Learn about iPlantCollaborative
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