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Apologies for the fairly broad question but does anyone know of any good examples of an online document archive or repository, or has some tips/resources? I am looking to design a UI that will allow users to browse and search (faceted search using metadata) around 500 docs, growing over time. The IA will obviously be key, but wanted to focus any feedback here on the UI only.

Many thanks,


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closed as not constructive by JonW Mar 9 '12 at 23:13

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If you want a large document archive... how about... the internet? And for the UI... how about Google / Yahoo / MSN / ... search for an example? – Marjan Venema Feb 2 '11 at 7:07
Hi Marjan, thanks for the comment. Yes, of course. There are indeed ui elements that can be adopted (and moreover, it makes sense to as users are familiar with these search engines and expect similar behaviours). I think however the nature of a 500 document archive versus the internet as a whole obviously makes for a different user experience and ui, since with such a comparatively tiny number of documents to reference, categorisation and classification is significantly easier. For example the faceted search of a holiday or online museum website can be much tighter focused due to ltd scope – Tom Feb 2 '11 at 10:35
how about... the internet - internet search is great for checking if there's a document that's "good enough". However, e.g. business applications have other requirements, e.g. find THE ONE document, make sure there is no such document, deal with duplictaes and branches etc. – peterchen Feb 2 '11 at 12:45
Good point - thanks Peter – Tom Feb 2 '11 at 14:24

The No 1. factor to design a good user interface for a online document archive would need to have exceptionally quick loading results, then focus on interface clarity, what steps do I need to use to get to the document I want, what can I do with that document once I have found it. is a example for books which I would use as a basis for a good design. For example, having categories to click on, different methods for people to access the content they need / want. - Define in concrete terms what you think your users will want from your site, make it different, vibrant, with plenty of ways for users to offer feedback and tell you what they would like improved / removed.

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How about looking at the way some of the shops work? Amazon, Etsy, Ebay etc? If it's only 500 documents, maybe look at how some of the smaller, more specialist shops are designed.

The pre-checkout, browsing phases of shopping are probably very similar to your problem. (Good) shops have more incentive than most websites to improve and innovate with their UI so are often a good place to look for faceted search/browsing type interfaces.

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