Cambridge university press

Changing the world of academic publishing through digital modernisation


Cambridge University Press engaged LION+MASON to research, validate, and design a new concept for academic publishing: a research & collaboration platform for academic researchers.

The platform makes it easy for researchers to share early work and encourages collaboration throughout the research process.

LION+ MASON conducted a full end-to-end product design process, from initial discovery and user research, right through to high-fidelity designs and an atomic design system.


Cambridge University Press


Higher Education


8 weeks


  • Competitor + Market Analysis
  • User Research (Academic)
  • Low-fi Wireframes / Prototyping
  • User Testing
  • High Fidelity Designs
  • Design System
Research Directions - Figma Prototype

Full Immersion

We began by conducting stakeholder workshops with the Cambridge internal team to clarify specific project aims and objectives, and identify their target user base.

We created personas to quickly bring these different users to life and prioritise them based on their role, career stage, and research needs. This helped Cambridge to identify two primary user types; ‘Hands On Researchers’ and ‘Research Shapers’.

To complement this ‘internal view’, we carried out secondary research into the wider market for academic research tools, conducting a detailed competitor analysis of community collaboration platforms, looking beyond academia to draw inspiration from news & blogging platforms.

Example of the Hands on researcher persona

Academic User Research

Cambridge needed to validate the concept idea with working academic researchers involved in writing and publishing their own research. We planned and conducted 25 hours of long form interviews with researchers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering & Medicine) to explore their experience of the current research and publication process and gauge the appetite for a research platform.

Outcomes analysed in 2 ways……

Performed a thematic analysis of the research findings, highlighting key issues and themes.

Created user journeys of the current research & publication process, identifying pain points and opportunities for improvement.

Screenshot of the findings report - user research

Mapping, Architecture & Prototyping

Designed the information architecture for the new platform, and how it fits into the wider Cambridge digital ecosystem.

Mapped user journeys showing the different ways users can flow through the platform.

Created an interactive prototype to bring the concept to life. The standout feature is a unique ‘network map’ concept, which breaks down the traditional article format into its constituent parts, visualising the story of research from conception to publication.

Iterative User Testing

We planned and conducted two rounds of user testing of the platform with academic researchers, including regular cycles of iteration to refine the navigation, labels, copy and UI components.

Numerous wireframes screens - Axure
Wireframe of the Network Map for User Testing

Pixel Perfect Designs

We incorporated user feedback to create high-fidelity page designs for desktop and mobile.
The designs were delivered in an atomic design system, providing Cambridge with the flexibility to manage the platform in-house, and making it easy to accommodate future changes.

FInal UI design of the Network Map
Research Directions - Figma Prototype

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