The New School Digital Collections Archive uses CollectiveAccess and a default template that has been customized to New School’s design guidelines.

CollectiveAccess is an opensource software for managing and publishing digital archives. The software was developed by Whirl-i-gig and its user base has grown steadily over the years. When I joined the team at Whirl-i-gig, the default theme was ready for a design update. As a group, we strategized streamlining the template based on user scenarios from past projects while improving functionality for new features.

We needed the design to be minimal with emphasis on functionality so that art archives, historical museums and scientific organizations could easily customize fonts and colors to blend with the aesthetic of any other web presences they may have. The default template allows archivists to easily publish data as they build their collections and is responsive across devices.

Page examples

Home page
The home page design was left open ended and flexible. We found that most of the users did not want the task of refreshing the text on the landing page. Instead the design relies on image content, and can be reconfigured with different featured images.

Object detail
From experience, the object detail page is area with the most variance between archives. The template had to keep visual interest while being flexible to ranges of images, maps and description texts. Using typography and a grid system, the layout retains visual interest if there are no images available and/or little description text. Conversely, there is space for large quantity of images and paragraphs of description text.

Other templates allow for custom galleries for featured collections, instant rendering of timelines from search and browse results and custom lightboxes.