Launched in 2000, the IIS website is a resource for anyone interested in the study of Ismaili history, heritage and thought, and in Shia Islam more broadly. The website features articles on a wide range of themes, information on the Institute’s publications, author interviews, photo galleries, and a glossary of Arabic and Persian terms. Visitors can also keep abreast of the latest news, activities and developments at the academic institution.
“The Institute has made a significant investment in its website to enable users to continue to enjoy quick and reliable access to authentic, well-researched resources,” says Shiraz Kabani, Acting Head of the Department for Communications and Development at the IIS. “The new design means that author interviews, reading guides and articles on particular themes are easy to find, and we hope this will encourage members of the Jamat to visit the site more regularly.”
More intuitive user experience
One of the new features is the Learning Centre, a section of the site designed for non-specialist users from the Jamat as well as the wider public. This part of the site includes filmed interviews with authors and scholars, articles on subjects ranging from the history and thought of the Ismailis to more contemporary themes, encyclopaedia articles by renowned scholars in the field of Islamic Studies, as well as access to the IIS’ Secondary Curriculum resources and media-rich learning galleries.
In response to user feedback, existing content has been reorganised so that users can navigate the website more intuitively. For instance, Research has been separated from Publications, and those interested in the Institute's graduate and doctoral scholarship programmes can find the information with fewer clicks.
“We are committed to providing well-researched scholarship on the intellectual traditions of the Ismailis through the Institute’s publications and research projects,” explains IIS Co-Director Dr Farhad Daftary. “The website and associated technologies now make this research available to a wider academic community as well as members of the Ismaili community and the general public. We hope that the IIS website will continue to serve as a central reference point for authentic information on the Ismailis that academics as well as members of the Ismaili community will feel confident in using and recommending to their colleagues, friends and associates.”
The redesign heralds a whole host of planned features that will enable audiences to engage more closely with The Institute of Ismaili Studies. Making knowledge more accessible is an important objective, says Shaheena Ormerod-Sachedina, Communications and Resource Development Manager at the IIS.
“We want to make the work of the Institute as accessible to as many people as possible,” she says. “Currently, we are working to upload previously translated sections of the site in Arabic, French, Persian, and Russian. Going forward, key pages will continue to be translated in these languages to ensure that the IIS is able to reach out to members of the Jamat globally.”
The IIS also hopes to present manuscripts, artefacts and other special objects in their historical and cultural context. Wafi Momin, Keeper of the Ismaili Special Collections says “we look forward to making parts of the Institute's special collections available to the Jamat and members of the public through online galleries and physical exhibitions. We are also keen to highlight the significant donations we have received from individuals and institutions over the years.”
Established in 2013, the Ismaili Special Collections Unit systematically catalogues, preserves, digitises, and studies nearly 3,000 manuscripts and several hundred volumes of rare books, periodicals and journals. The collection also includes a number of important coins from the Fatimid and Alamut periods of Ismaili history.
A new section of the site will allow users to browse image galleries in the Special Collections area of the IIS Website to see examples of Arabic, Persian and Khojki manuscripts, with special relevance to the heritage of Ismaili communities worldwide. Other planned initiatives include new interactive galleries and videos of lectures and interviews.
Visit the newly redesigned website of The Institute of Ismaili Studies at www.iis.ac.uk and be sure to sign up for their email updates.