Spotlight on the team behind the new Copac website and design: graphic design, part 1

Copac Team Member Lisa Jeskins met up with Mimas’s new graphic designer, Ben Perry to talk about how he got started as a graphic designer and how he came up with the new Copac design.

We’ve split the interview into two blog posts, today we hear how Ben got started as a graphic designer.

LJ: So Ben, how did you become a graphic designer and how did you end up at Mimas?

BP: I started out studying Three Dimensional Design at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and then did a year doing a Business Development course also at MMU. That’s where I started to develop my graphic design skills. After that I was placed for 2 years as Designer in Residence at Salford University, as part of the Design Initiative’s “Setting Up Scheme”, where I further developed my business and skills base.

I then went on to work for Sole Technology, an action sports footwear and clothing manufacturer. I spent a couple of years there producing the art work for their promotional leaflets, magazine adverts and brochures for the UK arm of the California-based company.  While I was working there I also started to get involved in promoting live music events in Manchester and through that I ended up doing a lot of graphic design work, not only to promote my own music events but more and more people started to come and asking me to design materials for them. So after a couple of years at Sole Technology, I decided to leave go freelance so that I could concentrate on graphic design and promoting events.

Slowly over course of last 3 years I’ve ended up tailing off on the events side of things because I was so in demand for my design skills, bringing bigger clients and more projects in to my freelance business. Also it didn’t fit with my family commitments either, I couldn’t really go out late every weekend any more when I had a small child. I’ve been doing solely graphic design for the last 2 years.

LJ: Would we have seen any of you work?

BP: Yeah, you would have done. I do a lot of graphic design for the Printworks, their promotional literature, in-house documents and all sorts of bits and pieces for them. Probably because of my background in music promotion, I do a lot work for the entertainment and night life sector. I met a lot of people when I was promoting events, so I also design a lot for clubs and music promoters, doing their promotional materials and websites. I also do all of the graphic design for a place called Sound Control in Manchester and have done some stuff for the Deaf Institute. All sorts of people, really – it’s quite broad ranging. I’ve worked with independent promoters, a paediatric dietician and have recently done some work for a company who have a mobile paella stand and import Spanish produce – I branded all their stuff for them.

LJ: Do you prefer designing print and promotional materials or websites? Which do you prefer – or do you prefer to do the whole ‘package’.

BP: I do prefer it when companies come to me and ask me to work on their whole brand. For example, I’m working with Levanter Fine Foods at the moment, the Spanish produce people I was talking about earlier. They came to me with this notion of what they wanted and I had to design their new logo. They wanted branding rolling out across everything – letterhead, compliments slips, business cards, flyers, catering stalls, labels for produce and we went the whole hog with everything. It was great because they were really confident in me, they trusted my judgement and my design skills so they knew I was going to deliver what they wanted. So I had free rein over everything and I was able to be really creative and do what I wanted which was really nice.

LJ: How did you build up your knowledge of art? From doing your degree?

BP: I’ve always thought of it as having a ‘visual vocabulary’, which is something that you gain over time – I don’t think it’s something you can learn. From a young age, art was the subject at school that I was most interested in, it’s the one I did best in. However I think that over the years you develop a sensibility and a notion of what looks good, and what feels nice, and for me I have sorts of inspirations. I’ve always been one for looking at my surrounding and being inspired by obscure things in everyday life, textures, colours that you see. There’s so much out there to inspire you. You also have to keep up with trends and new technologies for websites and graphic design and the look and feel of things that are current. One of the things with the Copac site was that you wanted it bringing up-to-date and you wanted it to feel current and modern.

You can hear how Ben achieved this, next week as he explains how he came up with the new Copac concept.

Copac trial interface: feedback

Many thanks to those of you that gave us feedback on the recent trial of the new Copac user interface. We really appreciate the time you put into testing and responding to us through the feedback form, email, and twitter.

I’ve summarised the feedback below:

  • In general you gave an enthusiastic response to the new interface design, including positive comments on the layout and workflow. Those who tried it on mobile devices were pleased with the how it came out.
  • There were also positive comments about the range of features, with the availability of the holding library list on the initial search result listing being particularly popular.
  • The grey ‘colour scheme’ generated a number of comments. Some people liked it but others definitely didn’t! The lack of colour on the site was to try and avoid getting too much comment on the graphics as opposed to the functionality of the new interface, so it won’t be staying monochrome.
  • There were individual comments about wording, screen elements, or requests for additional features, which are all valuable in helping us refine the presentation and facilities.
  • Amongst those who didn’t like the new interface the major concern was the lack of the ‘Main search’ screen with its range of detailed search options. Whilst the initial test was working just with the Quick search, we can reassure that we always intended to reintroduce the other search screens once we had feedback on the overall design. This obviously wasn’t as clear as we’d hoped.

We are continuing to work on the interface, reassured that we are moving in the right direction for most of you. In the next stage we’ll be incorporating colour as well as adding the missing search screens. We will also be making changes in response to comments or requests relating to individual features, as well as ensuring that it works well for as wide a range of browsers and devices as possible.

You’ll be able to try out the new interface again in a few months time and provide input into the final version before the work is completed.

Copac trial interface – have your say on the future of Copac!

We are developing a new style of Copac interface with greater search flexibility, new functionality, and clearer displays. Following initial user testing we’re now opening up the trial interface for further comment. We’re making the early draft interface available for a week from 12.00 noon 23rd May to 12.00 noon 30th May. This is your opportunity to try out the new interface, and let us know what you think!

Access the Copac Alpha trial interface.

Please note: The interface is very pared down, and there is no colour scheme. Some elements are just placeholders for planned options. The interface is designed to work in the latest browsers – you might experience issues with display/functionality in older browsers, such as IE 6 and 7.

We’d really appreciate your input into this work. There are feedback options on the screens and all comments will feed into the ongoing development process. You can also email with your feedback.

There will be further opportunities to comment on the interface redevelopment as the work continues. This is part of the complete redevelopment of the Copac service and additional interface facilities will become available at later stages on the work.

New Copac interface

The new Copac interface is now live.

You can now search Copac quickly from the basic Copac interface, without logging in.

Search and export records using the basic Copac interface, incorporating book and journal table-of-contents where available. You can export records directly into EndNote and Zotero.

Logging in gives you access to a range of additional facilities, including:

  • A personal Search History that you can tag, annotate, and develop over time as a record of your
  • A personal My References list that you can tag, annotate, and
    develop over time. Export selected records for use in reference management software.
  • Some users will have the option to search your own university library catalogue alongside Copac.

Login for University/college members: login to Copac with your
university/college username or Athens username.

Login for Non-academic Copac users: you can create a personal login using one of the following identity providers:


TypeKey: TypePad Profiles

There is more info on the TypeKey Identity Bridge on the UK
Access Management Federation
Web site

Please email the Copac helpdesk: with any feedback, or if you have any questions about the new interface.

Copac is changing…

The new personalised Copac will be made available during August 2009. Thank-you to the many people who have taken the time to send comments and requests relating to the Beta interfaces. We’ve had some really useful feedback and we’ll be following up many of the comments both before the release and over subsequent months.

New Copac trial interfaces

We are beginning a major redevelopment of the Copac National, Academic, and Specialist library catalogue service. The first stage of this work will introduce a login version of Copac with a range of new personalised facilities. Alongside this we will retain an open-access version of Copac.

Building on the recent Copac Beta trial, we have two new Copac Beta trial interfaces.

Personalised Copac, as seen in the beta trial, now has a new addition in the form of ‘my local library’ search, which allows members of some universities to search their own library catalogue alongside Copac, giving a single result set. This requires you to login to Copac.

The new standard Copac is a streamlined service which allows you to search and export records without logging in to the personalised Copac. It also includes a new journal table-of-contents display (where available).

Both these interfaces can be accessed at, and the trial will be running until 26th July.

There is a very short feedback questionnaire for each interface. We would appreciate it if you could fill in the questionnaire, or just email the Copac helpdesk ( with any comments you may have.

Copac Beta trial interface

There is now a Beta version of the Copac interface available for trial at

We’re working towards making Copac a more personalised research tool and we’d love to have your feedback on the current range of developments. Try out the Beta version of Copac, explore the new features, then fill in a brief questionnaire to give us your views about the changes so far. In appreciation we’ll put your name in a hat to win a £35 Amazon voucher. The Beta interface will be available for comment until May 29th.

Note: Access to the Beta version of Copac is currently restricted to members of UK academic institutions, you will need to login with your university/college username (or Athens username). The developments will be made more widely available in the future and there will continue to be a free access version of Copac available to everyone.

Copac links to Google Book Search

The Copac national, academic, and special library catalogue now includes links to documents in Google Book Search. Where a record contains an ISBN a link appears on the right of the Full record display and will take one of three forms:

  • Google Full View: this link takes you to an online copy of the book.
  • Google Preview: this allows you to see a limited number of pages from the book.
  • Google Book Search: most links will be in this form. These links don’t offer a view of the book itself, but in some cases there will be options such as links to web sites mentioning the book, links to other works that reference the book etc.

Find out more about how the linking is done from:
Inside Google Book Search: Preview books anywhere with the new Google Book Search API

ESTC search through Copac available again

The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) is again available through Copac after some work at the British Library. You will now be seeing ESTC records in your Copac search results. Unfortunately, searches that find a large number of records on ESTC can be slow and will require patience. This should affect only a small proportion of searches, but if you are having particular difficulties let us know so we are aware of the extent of the problem.