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Library Website Usability Study: Pre-research

Readings that helped

Ebenezer, Catherine. "Usability evaluation of an NHS library website." Health Information & Libraries Journal 20.3 (2003): 134.

  • This article helped us to think about the purpose of our website.  We realized there were several purposes at play on our website and this was interfering with the site's usability.  We finally asked our students what they used the library website for, using a Facebook survey.  Overwhelmingly they use it to find articles.  This bit of information would affect our redesign.

Fichter, Darlene, and Jeff Wisniewski. "Practical Website Improvement Face-off". Online Mar/Apr 2010:

  • Lessons learned: Use fewer words

  • Make the site personal by replacing all instances of "the library" with "we" and all instances of the words "patrons", "users", "students" with "you"

  • Also, a little personality won't kill you.  Maybe some humor even.  We addressed this by using Resource Icons within LibGuides, specifically hearts for those resources students particularly like.  Feedback from the students was positive.  They like the hearts.  They look for the visual cue provided by the hearts.  We also created a mildly humorous guide to Last Minute Research that students seem to enjoy.

George, Carole A. User-centred library websites: usability evaluation methods.  Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2008.

  • The true handbook for our study design.  Full of sample forms, scripts, step-by-step procedures, and more.  Our modified and customized documents are in the Study Documents & Forms tab.  Feel free to use them if you like.

Ipri, Tom, Michael Yunkin, and Jeanne M. Brown. "Usability as a method for assessing discovery".  Information Technology and Libraries, December 2009.

  • This article helped us to come up with our scenarios for testing.  They also confirmed our observation that students will use the Site Search function thinking they are searching a database or catalog.  We actually removed our Site Search box using custom CSS header code, assisted by the folks at LibGuides.

Morrison,  P. Jason.  "The patron strikes back: A review of recent library web site usability studies".  July 14, 2005.

  • A good overview of various methodologies for usability studies.  Also some discussion of jargon and acronyms and their negative impact on usability.  We will be going through our site, as well as our print brochures and handouts for a jargon purge.  We chose to do 15 "think-aloud" scenarios, with screen and audio capture, assisted by a note-taker/facilitator, and followed by a questionnaire.

Pressley, Lauren, and Kevin Gilbertson. "LIBRARIANS AS EXPERTS: Using the Web to Assert Our Value." Computers in Libraries 31.4 (2011): 19-23.

  • This article opened my brainpan to the idea that simple is better, a la Google, and supported all the articles that lobby for fewer words.  The screenshot of a *very* pared down page was mind-bending.  The Z. Smith Reynolds Library didn't stick with the screenshot in the article for their current webpage, but it was a good nudge for us.  Keeping it simple and keeping the function of the site focused on what students were using the site for made a very different page for us visually.