Canada’s first open access scholarly press, Athabasca University Press, has been encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and supporting scholarship for over a decade. Their championing of the uninhibited sharing of learning resources and other aspects of their digital presence—like their Instagram—are forward thinking and modern.
Getting back to the top of the game
Despite their early prominence as the first press to grant open access, Athabasca University Press’ website hadn’t been updated since the Press was founded; it needed an update to be able to keep pace with the organization. So, AU Press engaged Kobot to craft a website that not only upheld their commitment to accessible online resources and information sharing, but also let them stand out amongst competitors that have been able to catch up in the intervening years.
- The Challenge Creating a site that integrates all the technical needs of organizing an ever-expanding catalogue of books, that is also easy for users to navigate and grants the Press their well-earned credibility in the community.
- The Solution An in-depth survey of competitors in the open access and academic publishing landscape, paired with working through the different user journeys. We needed to understand the space AU Press operates within, as well as clarify what students, authors, and those using the backend of the website need to isolate important functionalities.
- The Results A website that functions impeccably, showcases the beautiful book covers, and is easy for audiences across different devices to use.
Accessible whenever, wherever
Having worked with offshoots of Athabasca University previously, we had an idea of the differences between their audiences and those at other post-secondary institutions. Because they are a distance learning institution, many of those accessing AU Press’ content are people who are fitting in their post-secondary education around a family or a full time job. They’re often pressed for time and on the go, and accessing their text books is no exception.
With that in mind, Kobot made sure the site functions just as well on desktop as it does on tablet or mobile phone. Open access means that the books are accessible to everyone, everywhere, and the website now keeps up to that promise.
We were looking for a mobile-friendly website in order to provide greater accessibility for our readers. Kobot delivered an elegant design that highlights our innovative publishing model, showcases our award-winning book covers, and allows us to connect more effectively with authors and readers.
Part of running a prestigious publishing house is making sure it’s a place that people actually want to publish. In conversation with the people who work at the Press, it became clear that each member of their team is dedicated to helping authors publish the best possible version of their work. One challenge they face is that phrases like “open access” or “free” mean “subpar,” which is definitely not the case here.
Using clean design and an up-to-date Awards page, the website shows authors that their work is in trustworthy hands. They have concrete proof that the process works and others in their sector have found success with AU Press.
Shareability is key
Part of bringing AU Press into the contemporary era was expanding their capacity for sharing and shareability. With that in mind, there are quick links to share books to Facebook and Twitter on every individual book page. As well, there is a fully integrated blog, allowing their talented marketing team to make announcements, celebrate events like national and international book days, and dive deeper into the work that they publish.
Kobot worked with Athabasca University Press to resolve their different users’ needs and build something that is both beautiful and useful. We were able to take inspiration from the values of AU Press —publishing, scholarly writing, and traditional print design—and make a website that both represents those values and helps the Press achieve its goals.