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American Society of Plant Biologists

Reimagining member engagement through a collaborative platform

The Challenge

The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is a global professional society devoted to the advancement of plant sciences. Founded in 1923, ASPB made a name for itself through journals and large scale conferences - but in the past decade, regulations around journal subscription and revenue collections changed so ASPB needed to adjust their organizational model to stay operational.

ASPB engaged LookThink to create an online community to address the following challenges:

  • The decline of print based media, and subscription based models for revenue
  • The lack of trusted methods for sharing information across organizations and individuals
  • The increase of specializations among individual practitioners and practices within the field
  • The difficulty of matching job-seekers to institutional needs​

We set off to create a collaborative platform that would allow users (including teachers, students, government agencies, universities, scholarship programs, recruiters) to communicate, find resources, apply for funding, seek new job opportunities, connect with mentors, and much more.

The Solution

Our first step was to identify and research each user type, establish goals for those personas, and explore a comprehensive topic-based taxonomy of plant science. These conversations were all critical inputs for the strategic brief which served as our roadmap for developing the platform, dubbed Plantae.

At this point, our design team joined the effort to explore refreshed branding for the Plantae. Our goal was to establish look and feel guidelines that would position Plantae as part of the ASPB family but also leave opportunity for customization by partner organizations in the future.

Once branding was set, we started to spec out all of the functional sections of the site via detailed wireframes - working in tandem with the development team to ensure that our specs would be achievable in the chosen platform, Small World Labs.

Once the development team finished the back-end work, we took back over, applying the refreshed branding to the front-facing screens via HTML/CSS.

A set of modules for the new Plantae site: badges, awards, posting a comment, a news feed, connections with pictures, and groups.

The Result

Currently, Plantae is in beta testing, with a sample set of users from the community covers all the personas we started with in user research. The expected launch date this winter.

We are continuing to be highly engaged with ASPB to answer questions and advise on changes based on user feedback. We are currently working with ASPB to map out future Phases which will include enhanced functionality for membership tiers and partnering organizations.

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