The MIT Press (MITP) is a leading publisher of books and journals at the intersection of science, technology, and the arts. Known for iconic design, rigorous scholarship, and creative technology, MITP publishes more than 200 new books a year and close to 40 journals.
Over the course of a multi-phase build and migration, MITP launched MIT Press Direct, which hosts close to 3,000 books as well as their portfolio of journals.
Often, book and journal publishing programs have differing dependencies, staff capacity, and business goals, but ultimately the publisher is looking to unify the programs on a single platform. Silverchair is able to adapt with flexible project plans that can handle independent timelines.
The migration of the MIT Press content took place in two phases, with the books content launching first in January of 2019, offering institutional subscribers DRM-free books with chapter-level access for unlimited simultaneous users. Once the book migration was complete, the teams moved on to the migration of the Press’ 39 journals, which launched in May of 2021. Although adding the journal program to the site was a significant expansion of functionality, the books site operated normally throughout the development process.
Today, MIT Press Direct has achieved their goal of a comprehensive, unified access point for all MIT Press digital content, offering a seamless and consistent experience for users, regardless of content type.
“For many publishers, the scale of a full content migration can be daunting, with different stakeholders, formats, and workflows across different types of content,” said Craig Griffin, VP of Solutions Engineering at Silverchair. “That’s why we’re seeing an increasing number of phased migrations, which offers clients the flexibility of an incremental approach while still delivering the ultimate goal of a single content hosting platform and unified user experience.”
A key factor in the Press’s selection of Silverchair as a partner was the need for a flexible platform that can accommodate the diverse list that the MIT Press publishes, ranging from highly technical titles with LaTeX mathematical computations to heavily illustrated art and architecture volumes.
MITP already had a significant web presence, which meant that Silverchair needed to adapt to their established design systems while continuing to utilize Silverchair Platform layouts & content hosting spec to ensure continued compatibility and access to ongoing platform-level functionality upgrades. MITP’s design systems were thoroughly documented by MITP and their design partners Pentagram and Palantir, with many style guideline resources provided to Silverchair during discovery phases. Where some might see this as a potential source of friction, Silverchair’s designers were excited to work with such high quality designs and to incorporate the unique look into the existing Silverchair Platform layouts and tools.
The process of adapting the platform to this established style guide used a line of design thinking applied to all of our sites, Atomic Design. This involved styling existing Silverchair Platform components and variables such as icons, buttons, toolbars, typography, and colors. Once settled during the discovery phase of the project between both parties, we were able to carry these components throughout.
The resulting MIT Press Direct site is a clean extension of the MITP brand that is consistent with their other digital properties. MITP achieved a fully-branded Silverchair Platform site in less than four months, with the full suite of Silverchair Platform tools to stand up more sites with more content in the near future. All of this while staying on-brand with a heavily documented style guide.
“We are delighted to once again partner with Silverchair and unite our ebooks and journals on a single platform. The expanded site allows us to deliver a competitive, contemporary experience to our institutional and individual customers.”
—Nick Lindsay, director of journals and open access at the MIT Press
“MIT Press Direct is an elegant, responsive, full-feature site that advances the fields to which the Press has contributed over the last 50 years.”
—Terry Ehling, director of strategic initiatives at the MIT Press