BORA: enabling online knowledge sharing

We were faced with two main challenges: First to refresh an existing brand and infuse it with a sense of coolness and aspirational association, whilst retaining its academic and established credentials; coupled with this, we needed to completely overhaul and rebuild the website to improve the usability and accessibility, helping more people access their huge repository of information.


The Bergen Open Research Archive (BORA) based at Bergen University College (HIB) is the institutional archive of the University in Norway. The archive contains different kind of scientific material ranging from master thesis, articles, PhD thesis or other quality assured academic productions from all the departments at the institution.

After our initial analysis of the existing BORA-HiB site, our research showed that people were finding it difficult to use the current archive, preventing them from accessing the plethora of research materials available. We needed to focus on accessibility and usability in order to increase usage; whilst refreshing the brand, injecting personality into the institute.

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Our approach:

For the brand we took an evolutionary approach, refreshing certain elements whilst losing an unnecessary supporting graphical device. By adopting a strong typographical route, with embedded graphical detail, we created a powerful established marque that complemented their heritage; whilst giving the ID a young and fresh feel acting as a natural complement to their new, dynamic responsive website.

A second part of the brief was to ensure that academics actually wanted to be associated with the brand, and to make the complementary site a worthwhile and rewarding search experience. In effect to create a self-fulfilling virtuous circle whereby first, people wanted to submit their work to the archive whilst secondly, becoming a highly useful and respected resource for on-going research.

Following on from an extensive information architecture phase, working closely with BORA-HiB to establish personas, user journeys, wire framing and search results, we set out to consider the best technical solution. Based upon the DSpace archiving platform, BORA is the first repository in the world to be accessible through a CMS (Joomla, in this case) and also the first to be responsive and available on mobile devices. It is also multilingual in Norwegian and English.

Not only was the site to be user friendly and useful, we were also tasked with injecting character and positive associations into the design. In the absence of any obvious visual graphics or imagery, we encouraged the University College to use local artists' work providing a backdrop to the new archive. This not only embedded them within their own creative community, but brought recognition for local artists work to be seen by a large international audience.

Consequently we were able to inject the all important identity and unique feel of Bergen into the branding exercise, whilst adding interest and intrigue to a user's experience. The net result has been an ever-increasing usage of this extraordinary academic archive resource, whilst establishing the brand as a respected and forward-looking organisation, that academics are readily wishing to be associated with.

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