How we designed galassia Ariosto

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Francesca Di Donato

    Net7 SRL, Internet Open Solutions

  2. 2. Giulio Andreini

    Net7 SRL, Internet Open Solutions

  3. 3. Serena Pezzini

    Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

Work text
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In the poster we will present the User Experience work we did for the digital library Galassia Ariosto (


Galassia Ariosto is one of the main outputs of the ERC AdG “Looking at Words through images” (2013-2017) leaded by Lina Bolzoni of the CTL research lab at
Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
. The CTL team has always been interested in studying the relations between text and images and that’s what Galassia Ariosto is about: an in-depth study of the relations between the text of Orlando furioso (and other chivalric poems) and the illustrations sets that were produced to enrich the text.

The project dealt with Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso editions, starting from the 1516 first printed edition which soon became a “best seller”. In the following years venetian editors wanted to create some more appealing editions and started adding illustrations to the text: those illustrations were engraved in wooden blocks and placed alongside the moveable types to layout the pages. These were a visual description of what’s written in the text and were the first books with images ever produced. Soon this became an editorial standard and the illustrations of the Orlando furioso became very complex and detailed, and this type of illustrations were introduced in other chivalric poems like La Gerusalemme Liberata, Orlando Innamorato, Tredici canti del Floridoro and many more.
Net7 was involved in the design and implementation of the digital archive where all data and information are stored and made accessible on the web:

A back-end system that allows the team to do their research, inserting images, texts, comments, entities and building relations between all those elements, including portions of images and texts.
A front-end user interface to make all this work public and accessible to the world.

The main challenges of the project were:

to make all this complex data and relations easy to browse and understand;
to create an attractive UI that involves the user;
to create different ways to access the content of the archive targeted to different groups of users (personas).

In the project, we adopted a UX based methodology and approach. After the first user testing, the discovery process has been conceived considering 3 main macro-typologies of target users:

the domain expert (member of the research team). She knows what the DL contains, and needs to directly access single “leafs”. She uses the advanced search feature, which filters results helping them through the autocomplete.
a skilled scholar, who has not precise knowledge of what the DL contains. She enters the platform from the full index of Works (Opere).

and the “culture enthusiast” (which include students, teachers, and culture lovers), who browse the highly specialized content of the archive through stories which connect texts and images through storytelling (Percorsi).

The result is a rich platform strongly oriented to different user needs, with different access points.

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