Jen Thomson :: UX Designer

Edinburgh Collected

Edinburgh Collected is an online service which allows citizens to share, explore and discuss their memories of the City of Edinburgh and surrounding areas. It is an organically growing archive that showcases glimpses into daily life from days gone by to present times.

Code for Europe

Code for Europe was a year long project run by NESTA where they placed a developer into each of four local authorities, with myself acting as supporting designer for each project. We were given the freedom to experiment and create digital services using open data sets which were available from the local authority or which we sourced and published ourselves.


Edinburgh Collected is a digital service that offers a fresh approach to creating future heritage content. It is intended to grow the digital collections held in Edinburgh's libraries and museums. Members of the public and community groups are encouraged to share their photos to create a growing collection of Edinburgh-based memories and members can create their own curated collections from within the site content.

This project was part of NESTA's Code for Europe Program, which required the code that we created had to be open source and the collection stored as open data as both the application and content had to be available for re-use and repurposing.

We took a user centred and agile approach to delivering this project.

View Edinburgh Collected

This project was delivered as part of Nesta's Code for Europe Program

User research

We took a user-centred approach to designing Edinburgh Collected by establishing a user group of key stakeholders typical of the type of users we wanted to encourage to use the site. This included staff from the libraries, educators, social care professionals, local history groups and The Living Memory Association.

After interviewing these groups we created personas based on their individual requirements which went on to inform the functionality of the site. These personas also let us get an understanding of how users might access the site and in what context. For example after speaking to the history groups they were keen to have the ability to have a group account that multiple people could contribute to and the Social Care providers were keen to have offline access or the ability to export their collections to use in reminiscence therapy. Other uses that came out of this research were intergenerational projects with schools and nursing homes with the former wanting to learn the history of their area and the latter gaining much needed interaction and social engagement.


At each stage of the project we created relevant fidelity prototypes to test our ideas. At ideation stage we held a workshop with Edinburgh Libraries staff and created paper prototypes of our ideas; once we had an idea of how it would work we mocked up low fidelity wireframes and prototyped interactions using InVision.

User testing

We ran several rounds of user testing with key stakeholders, mostly face-to-face, to gain feedback on what we were building. We gave users a set of tasks to perform as we observed and had them rate these tasks for their ease of completion. We then implemented this feedback into the site. We were also lucky to have have help from a partially sighted user group who were invaluable in helping us to make the site as accessible as possible.

Visual design

The design of Edinburgh Collected had to be especially considered as it had to be usable by young children and elderly alike. We had to take into consideration the contrast and size of the text and buttons, the size of images and the ability for them to be viewed at scale and for it to be easily navigated.