WUP tests the world’s oldest bible

September 11, 2012

WUP usability tested the digitised version of one of the most important books in the world – the Codex Sinaiticus – prior to its recent launch.

The Codex was handwritten well over 1600 years ago and contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. The original manuscript is split up and kept in four different locations – The British Library (UK), St Catherine’s Monastery (Sinai), Leipzig University (Germany) and the National Library of Russia (St Petersburg, Russia). Our client, the British Library, is involved in the project to digitise the pages from all four sites so that scholars and the general public from all over the world will be able to access the book in its entirety.

Prior to its launch, the British Library commissioned WUP to user test the digitised Codex Sinaiticus with a selection of target users. We recruited a range of potential site users to test the site, including general public with an interest in the Bible and academics interested in the Codex and its translation from Greek.

The site was seen to be hugely valuable to all the testers:

“[It’s a] very valuable site, really valuable site. It would be nice to have sites like this for every ancient manuscript- it could also be extremely useful as a teaching tool” [Academic]

Key British Library stakeholders observed the testing and discussed the issues that surfaced, and then agreed actions that could be taken to address these issues. A number of changes were made to the site prior to launch that significantly improved the user experience.

The site was launched to considerable publicity and on its first day the site had a huge number hits, so great were these that additional server capacity had to be found quickly. The site remains very popular and provides a great example of how the web can give access to a unique document like this that not possible in any other way.