Redesign of Openverse

A few weeks ago, we introduced the new Openverse identity as the beginning of a redesign journey, where we placed the search engine within the WordPress ecosystem. Since then, we have been working on a new interface that consolidates the new brand and puts consistency with WordPress at the forefront.

You may have heard about Openverse during State of the Word 2021, which is perfect timing to dive into what’s coming next for Openverse.

Audio. The new content type

The goal of Openverse is to catalog all openly-licensed content, not just images. To start this journey, we decided to include audio results as a new content type that many creators use for various purposes. This integration demanded designing an interactive audio player component with multiple variants and accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). ( as a primary concern. Even when Openverse spans a simple flow, the audio browsing experience is completely different from searching for an image.

We wanted to keep the interface as clean as possible, but the vibrance of the brand colors also excited us. For this reason, we used our brand yellow for the active, ‘playing’ state. Its boldness really shines when interacting with the component.

At the same time, we wanted to highlight the artwork that creators added to their audio, whether album artwork, a podcast logo, or an image taken during a field recording, for example. For audio tracks without artwork, we plan to design a default image that uses the spectral data of the audio file to add randomness.

We will post about that in the following weeks.

Audio and images were mentioned as relevant content types by our users during the interviews we ran. For that reason, we explored the idea of having a gallery showing all content results to exhibit the strength and flexibility of Openverse. There aren’t many search engines, to our knowledge, that integrate results from different media types, and we’re excited by future possibilities like multimedia user collections.

Imagine a biology teacher making a collection of images of crows; audio files of crow calls; and 3D models of the skeletal structure of a crow’s wing!

The resulting gallery challenged us to make a simple yet interactive page to preview audio and dig into the content details.

Browsing results without leaving

Since time ago, we have been hesitant about the idea of seeing the content details as a modal. The page view provides a straightforward navigation and interaction experience when opening the source site and copying the attribution info. However, it felt as leaving the search results page and splitting the browsing experience into separated moments.

The new modal looks clean, and the main content is even more predominant. On images, the showcase space is modest, whereas audio fills the modal width to allow a seamless experience. The result details are clustered in sections, and the vertical lecture is flexible to varying heights. 

Next steps

I would love to dive into other changes like the new headerHeader The header of your site is typically the first thing people will experience. The masthead or header art located across the top of your page is part of the look and feel of your website. It can influence a visitor’s opinion about your content and you/ your organization’s brand. It may also look different on different screen sizes., the symbol animation when loading content, and all the accessibility challenges when designing the audio states. But for now, this snap summarizes the essence of the new Openverse.

We are looking forward to putting this redesign online and seeing what people come with. This step, after the brand work, is a solid one towards a future where Openverse offers a space for creators to use openly-licensed content.

In the meantime, see the Releases file for the audio integration mockups and the Design Library for the components used.

#design #openverse