In focus: OpenEdition’s web projects

We’ve reached the end of the first stage of the “OpenBar” project – long live the new OpenBar! Responsive and contextual, this new navigation bar has just gone live on all OpenEdition platforms. And with that comes an opportunity for Guillaume Andreux, OpenEdition web project manager, to look back at the characteristics of this project and the coordination of OpenEdition web projects.

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  • This new navigation bar has already been deployed on the search engine OpenEdition Search. What are the main characteristics of this new navigation bar? Are there any specific features, depending on the platform?

The basic idea is to showcase OpenEdition, so that on each platform, especially on the sites of journals, publishers and blogs, the visitor is aware they’re browsing the OpenEdition portal.

The new navigation bar is very similar across all the platforms. The only specific part for each platform is what we call the context menu, which allows you to navigate within the platform itself. This is different from one platform to another. Hypotheses is a bit different: on this platform there’s no context menu (it’s already embedded in the content of the platform). On the blog pages, the bar will be more minimalist.

The new navigation bar contains 3 different menus:

  • the context menu mentioned above;
  • a menu allowing you to change the navigation language, share something on social media, and view the connection to a partner institution;
  • an “All OpenEdition” menu, which allows you to navigate from one platform to another.
  • What’s the next step for the new OpenBar?

Compared to the old bar, this new bar is a big step forward in terms of graphics, functionality, usability, etc. We are currently in a transitional phase where we will monitor which elements we need to modify, add or delete.

We already have in mind things to change. There will be more ideas too, especially from tests that we could carry out with our users.

The new bar will also be able to evolve in line with redesigns of the platforms. For example, the button to share something on social media is likely to be integrated into the platform design, and should therefore disappear from the bar.

One of the objectives is to move to a model of continuous development, where the navigation bar evolves regularly, through small corrections and more rarely through big changes.

  • This project is inseparable from the redesign of the OpenEdition platforms. Were there constraints that had to be taken into account?

The main challenge was taking into account the specific features of each platform. We have decided to remove certain elements from the old bar, such as downloading PDFs on journal sites. That meant we had to modify the journal sites so they include a download button.

As mentioned above, other elements are provisionally included in the bar pending their integration into the platforms after the redesign.

Another important constraint was to make this navigation bar “responsive”, i.e. for it to adapt to different screen sizes, from the smallest smartphone to a large desktop screen.

Some of the platforms are not or are not completely responsive, which will create a visual mismatch between the bar and the portals while the redesign is taking place.

  • Alongside the Journals and Data Departments, you’re also involved in a project to create a generic design for journal sites on OpenEdition Journals. What does that entail?

When the platform was created, each site was developed with its own design and its own functionalities, using Lodel digital publishing software. This “artisanal” method was possible when there was a small number of journal sites.

With over 500 journals on the platform, it’s no longer possible to work this way – OpenEdition Journals has entered the “industrial” era now. The aim is to have a single design template for all the journals.

With a single template, it’s easy to make updates to all the journals. This makes it possible to roll out features that exist on some journals to all the others, or to create new features for all the journals and deploy them at the same time.

The challenge is adapting each journal to the new generic template. Each of them has to be checked to see if they are compatible with the template, and if they aren’t, we then need to decide whether to incorporate its specific features into the template or remove these features.

One of the distinctive things about OpenEdition Journals, compared to other platforms, is the fact that each journal has its own visual identity, which in a way makes it unique compared to the other journals on the platform. For many journals, switching to the template is not noticeable since the design is the same or almost the same as before. For others, often the oldest journals, the template is quite different from the new generic template. That makes the change more visible. When approximately 80% of the journals have moved to the generic template, we’ll then be able to start working on redesigning the template to make it responsive and more modern in terms of user experience.

  • How many site templates have already switched to the generic template?

As of 1 September, 271 out of the 546 journals had moved to the generic template, i.e. almost half.

  • What is the next step for the OpenEdition web projects?

We’re currently working on a redesign of Calenda. This will be the first platform (apart from Hypotheses) to move into responsive design.

The objective is to move forward in stages: the events pages and the submission form will be the first to be updated. The search engine and the homepage will be updated in the second phase.

Cite this blog post
OpenEdition team (2020, September 4). In focus: OpenEdition’s web projects. Open Electronic Publishing. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from

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