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Library Website Usability Study: Before & after

Changes we made to the library home page

Changes we made to the Library home page

Our goals in changing the library home page were to respond to specific issues raised by our study and to simplify, simplify, simplify.  The changes we made resulted in a much cleaner looking page, with fewer words, fewer links, and more immediate access to research tools.  It also fits on one page, with no scrolling.

Left navigation box

The navigation list is now much shorter.

·         Deleted the Faculty Services link and moved it under Library Services.  Statistics showed the page wasn’t being accessed.  The link is now featured on the Teaching Excellence page and on Resources for New Faculty Members in a different area of CampusGuides with the idea that faculty might navigate through those pages more often than the Library pages.

·         Deleted New Purchases.

·         Changed Calendar of Events to Workshops & Events to make “workshops” more visible.  Also moved it up to the second position under Library Hours.

·         Added a Resource Icon heart to the Online Help Desk for the visual cue and the warm-fuzzies.  Still considering a name change to that link.

·         Changed the link for My Library Account to jump straight into the Minerva login page where the instructions are fairly clear.  There were two mentions from the study that the in-between page had too many words and that they had expected to jump right into Minerva.

·         Changed Or Visit the Virtual Learning Center to Or Visit the Learning Center, for simplicity and clarity.

The tabs across the top of the page

These remained mostly unchanged, although we did change the Background Information tab to Encyclopedia articles.

The Facebook box

We decided to keep the Facebook Like function, but simplified the display to reduce clutter and the amount of space it took up.  We’re finding that Facebook is the best way to get feedback from students, so we would like to get that Like number up.

The middle column

A Facebook survey showed that most of our students used the library website for finding articles and for finding books.  This functionality (especially for articles) was buried two to three links deep.  So, in an effort to give students quicker access to the tools they need, we replaced the wordy links from the Find Resources For Your Project box with two search widgets and a dropdown menu for database selection.  We were also inspired by the library at Wake Forest University’s attempt to “googlify” their front page.

The new Find Books at the YCCC Library box

We replaced our old colorful and large Minerva search widget for a much more streamlined widget, set to keyword searching.  We kept a smaller Minerva owl icon.  The study showed that students recognized this icon as meaning the library catalog.

We have little or no control over the look, feel, or functionality of the Minerva (Triple I Millennium) catalog, but we will work on making the transition between the two sites a little smoother.  In particular, working a link into the header or footer (which we can customize) that will take students back to the YCCC Library site.

The new Find Articles box

Again, simplicity was the goal.  The new article search widget is set to search Academic Search Complete, with a dropdown menu to select a different database if desired.  We also added a link to Request the login/password for searching from home, with the little gold key icon.

The right column

We kept the Useful Tools box at the top of the column, with Noodlebib and Subject Guides as the only links.  The Noodlebib link got a heart Resource Icon for the visual cue and the warm-fuzzies.

We moved the Learn More About box under Useful Tools.  Very few students seem to be using the website to learn how to do research, but the librarians were reluctant to let this function of the site go.  Much of the site is devoted to teaching students about information literacy – a direct response to our need to provide equivalent services to online and off-campus students.  We only have two links in this box: 

·         Choosing and developing a topic is included because our research showed this is the most challenging part of research for students. 

·         Search tips & online tutorials (with the new star Resource icon) which will lead students to all of our online curriculum.

Comments and Feedback

We never received any comments or feedback from the built-in LibGuides feature during its first year.  Our post-survey indicated that only 1 participant was “very likely” to leave comments or feedback.  To reduce clutter and increase white space, we turned off the comments and feedback function on the main page. 

In the future, we may include a Feedback box on each Subject Guide.  We certainly include one on every LibAnswers reply that we send out.  Again, though, not much of a response to this function.


The Library home page: Before the study

Our original home page, pre-study.  We thought it was so beautiful and useful.

Twenty-four plus links on the home page which is pages and pages deep.  Lots of "black stuff", as one of our participants called it; you know....words. 


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The Library home page: After the study

After the study, we stripped out lots of words, moved non-essential links deeper into the site.  It feels lighter, cleaner, more easily functional to what students are needing.

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Our Current Page

Over time, we have made the home page even simpler:

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