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The Johns Hopkins University


It can be a challenge for organizations to convey the human impact in areas such a public health work. The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, in conjunction with USAID, came to Trellon for assistance in solving this problem. The result was a total rebuild of their dated public health image catalog. Photoshare became a modern, crowdsourced catalog of images that are free for nonprofit and educational use. By engaging both amateur and professional photographers who are directly engages in public health work across the world, Photoshare provides an accurate and impactful view into the work done by its contributors. The photos available are regularly used in grant applications and reports as well as in websites, teaching materials, and presentations.

Photo-centric Design

One of Trellon’s initial challenges was in updating the look and feel of a bland, dated system into something that would inspire participation in visually-minded contributors. Making the contributed photos front and center was an easy decision. Not only did it highlight the contributions made, but it leveraged the visual appeal and emotional impact of the images in the collection. 

Simple Image Submission and Management

Even if people wanted to contribute to the system, a complex submission process would serve as a powerful deterrent to participation. In order to be effective, however, Photoshare would need to collect information about the photographer, location, and content of images as well as metadata about the image file itself. Trellon developed a custom image submission form that would track users to create sensible defaults on their submissions, pull metadata directly from image files, and allow for the bulk uploading of images in order to make the submission process as simple as possible.

Trellon further created a host of screens to simplify the management of images. Contributors are able to view the images they have submitted as well as the history of use of those images. System administrators are presented with simple queues of both submitted images and requests to use images. These are used to approve items or  to provide feedback via the internal messaging system.

Custom Search and Image Selection

Photoshare could have the perfect image to help a nonprofit tell its story, but if that nonprofit couldn’t find and request that image, Photoshare wouldn’t be of any use to it. Trellon’s response was to create a comprehensive search and image selection toolset. Using Apache Solr technology to power the search engine gave Trellon the ability to create a customized search experience based around common-sense search terms. Displaying results information in-context prevents users from searching too narrowly, ensuring they will get relevant results. Trellon also chose to present additional information about individual images on the search result page via an intuitive hover-based interface, allowing users to quickly access additional information about multiple promising-looking images. Users can also save images to a temporary lightbox directly from the search result screen so that they can review them in-depth later, or share them with others at their organization before they decide which images to use. 


With a system designed to handle tens of thousands of high-quality images, performance was obviously a concern. Trellon worked closely with the team at Johns Hopkins to discuss hosting options and put performance enhancements into place, centering around the batch upload, image display, and search processes.