Refworks, User-Centered Application Redesign

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Refworks, User-Centered Application Redesign

  • Information Experts | Award-winning Strategic Communications Firm
    Sample screenshot from RefWorks web-based application.
  • Information Experts | Award-winning Strategic Communications Firm
    Sample screenshot from RefAware application.
  • Information Experts | Award-winning Strategic Communications Firm
    Sample screenshot of RefShare application.


RefWorks is a leading provider of online research management, writing and collaboration tools popular with researchers, scientists and students around the world. Although RefWorks was a pioneer in the field of online research management, their web interface had become dated and lagged behind competitors in their ability to provide an intuitive and efficient user experience. RefWorks needed to redesign their product suite so that it incorporated the best and most intuitive features available to web users today. They needed an interface design that would be obvious and friendly to users new to the RefWorks product suite and that would also retain those more powerful functions and features research professionals had become accustomed to. Of paramount importance to RefWorks was to provide an interface that made this complex suite of products quickly understandable and usable to all users, regardless of their familiarity with the product.


Information Experts worked closely and collaboratively with RefWorks to understand their product offerings and their user community. Strong attention was paid to the users of the RefWorks products and the requirements and challenges they face with online research management. Using their understanding of the products and the user community, Information Experts designed an interface that was fresh, simple and intuitive. Extensive user testing was conducted on prototypes and beta versions of the new design to ensure the final product would meet the requirements of RefWorks and the user community. This new design removed the clumsiness and heaviness of the previous interface and provided researchers with an efficient tool box within which to manage their data. After creating a design (that became an award-winner), the IE team developed a blueprint for the future product suite. Each unique element of the suite was diagrammed so that RefWorks could mix and match the components into a product suite that met the requirements of its user community. This blueprint provided RefWorks with the tools it would need to build a product suite that meets its goals as well as the needs of the online research community.


  • Marketing and Outreach Consulting
  • Technical Development
  • Creative Design and Development