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Anthony Chow, Ph.D. – UNCG Library and Information Studies Dept. Christian Burris – Head of Serials, Wake Forest University Michelle Bridges – School Librarian,

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Presentation on theme: "Anthony Chow, Ph.D. – UNCG Library and Information Studies Dept. Christian Burris – Head of Serials, Wake Forest University Michelle Bridges – School Librarian,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Anthony Chow, Ph.D. – UNCG Library and Information Studies Dept. Christian Burris – Head of Serials, Wake Forest University Michelle Bridges – School Librarian, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Patricia Commander – Health Sciences Librarian, WSSU

2  Study Introduction  Literature Review  Research Method  Findings  Discussion and Recommendations

3 What does a typical library website look like?  We decided to ask !  Our nationwide study involved all academic and public libraries from all 50 states examining website design, layout, content, and site management.

4  Websites are akin to exits off a main freeway, a promise of potential adventure and intrigue and have less time than ever, as little as seconds (Nielsen & Loranger, 2006)  In reviewing the literature, there have been many studies describing usability testing and research done on singular institutional websites for one individual library; broad studies focusing on public and academic libraries, however, are not common

5  Liu (2009) also made a list of innovative features of website and found that 30 libraries had RSS feeds, four had personalized library spaces, and almost all had live chat as a reference communication tool.  Solomon (2005) conducted a survey of public library websites in Ohio, using a checklist of 61 usability guidelines, features and content. Overall Solomon found that only 35 of the 211 websites surveyed met 80% of her criteria and she noted that important features were missing such as privacy policies, site searches, and feedback mechanisms.

6  Usability studies have shown that creating websites with usability guidelines are important as, “patrons who cannot successfully complete specific tasks may not revisit the site” (Chen et al 2009, 963).  Connell (2008) found from a survey of web developers in academic libraries that only 46.8% of them had conducted usability testing of any kind on their websites

7  Usability & Usability Testing  ISO (1998): The effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments (ISO, 1998).  Utility and Ease-of-Use (Nielsen, 2001)  User-Centered Design (UCD; ) or human centered design ▪ “development proceeds with the user as the center of focus” (Rubin, 1984).

8  King (2003) suggests that you first envision your site as a business with information being the product. “…usability studies play a vital role in making sure library users can find information on your Web site quickly and accurately” (p. 13).  Liu (2009) found that "the universe of information presented on academic library homepages still focuses on library functions, requires numerous pathways for access, has overwhelming options, and takes a 'one-design- for-all' approach that fails to recognize users as individuals"(11).

9  A comprehensive review of the literature revealed no large scale study had been conducted to determine the current state of academic and public library websites  RQ1: What is a standard design layout for academic and public library websites?  RQ2: What are the common features and content academic and public library websites include?  RQ3: Who designs and maintains academic and public library websites?  RQ4: To what extent do academic and public library websites adhere to recommended design guidelines?

10  1,469 websites were analyzed for the study  The Library Website Usability Checklist (n=203) ▪ Systematic evaluations of randomly selected sites  The Library Website Survey (n=1,266) ▪ Self-reports from the nation’s libraries

11  The Library Website Usability Checklist (n=203)  67 questions divided into five discrete sections – site information, recommended website features, content, feature placement, and recommended information architecture and usability factors  four library websites from each state and the District of Columbia stratified into four categories: one rural public library, one urban public library, one private academic library, and one public academic library. Study's Sampling Frame Type of Library Evaluations per state Total (All 50 states plus D.C.) Urban Public151 Rural Public*150 Private academic151 Public academic *Washington D.C. has only one public library

12  The instrument was comprised of a total of 44 questions broken down into five sections – general information (4), web design and management (5), feature checklist (5), content (22), and page location and placement (8).  Over three quarters (76.9%) of our responding libraries were public libraries, while only 23.1% were academic libraries  Breakdown of patron-bases served

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14 WHAT do library websites have on their sites? Library Website Survey (n=966) Library Website Checklist (n=168) Library contact information 98.20%95.80% Library hours posted 97.70%97.00% Location information 91.90%90.90% Library news and events 88.70%84.10% Clear navigation tools 87.70%87.80% Link to the OPAC 85.90%97.00% Circulation information 81.30%93.90% Renew books or materials online 78.80%81.20% About Us section 76.00%81.20% Get help or feedback 75.70%93.90% Comments or suggestions 70.10%59.60% Virtual reference services 56.50%86.10% Search tool 56.30%63.30% Creation or copyright date 43.80%62.40% RSS feed 38.20%51.80% Site map 35.20%34.80%

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17 Are These Features Available?Public Library WebsiteAcademic Library Website Are there clear navigation tools on all pages? 88% Is there navigation back to the homepage from every page? 90%92.2% Is there a search tool of the site? 53%69.3% Is the date of the last update indicated? 17%19.6% Is there a tag line that briefly describes what the webpage/library does? 36%9.8% Are the library's name and logo in a reasonable size and location? 91%88.2% Are font styles and text formatting limited and consistent? 92.1%98% Are high contrast colors used between the text and the background? 87.9%98% Can the text be resized? 20.2%2% Does the graphic design feel clean and uncluttered? 83%89.1% Are graphics used appropriately to address specific needs (No random splash pages or huge graphics with no seeming purpose)? 88%87% Is the website multi-browser friendly? 98%99% Does the website give its users the ability to pick their language? 29.7%3% Is the website organized logically so that similar sections are grouped together in the organization hierarchy? 87%85.3% Is there a site map? 27.7%38% Are headings user friendly? 88.9%92.2% Are headings, titles, and links jargon free? 66.3%49% Are abbreviations and acronyms spelled out or explained? 8.9%8.8%

18  Library websites had excellent results for the standard contents only  Web 2.0 tools were not found on 25.2% of the libraries surveyed in the LWUC and on 73.6% of the libraries in the LWES  40-60% of library websites did not provide access to their special collections via their websites

19 Location of Primary Web Elements Web ElementTotalSurvey Top SelectedResearcher Top Selected Navigation Side Left30 % (n=498)36.3% (n=379)60.4% (n=119) Top Center29% (n=493)38.4% (n=400)47.2% (n=93) Search Tool Placement Not on homepage37% (n=463)37.8% (n=382) 41.5% (n=81) Top Right29% (n=365)30% (n=303) 31.8% (n=62) Name and Logo Top Left 45% (n=598)43.3% (n=460)69.7% (n=138) Top Center 39% (n=518)45.4% (n=483)17.7% (n=35) Contact Information Bottom Center 21% (n=293) 21.6% (n=227)33.5% (n=66) Not on homepage 14% (n=192) 16.2% (n=170)11.2% (n=22) Top Center 11% (n=158) 13.5% (n=142)8.1% (n=16) Side Left 11% (n=154) 10.6% (n=112)21.3% (n=42) Location Information Not on homepage 20% (n=267)21.4% (n=226) 20.8% (n=41) Bottom Center 19% (n=261)18.7% (n=197) 32.5% (n=64) Top Center 13% (n=179)15.3% (n=162) 8.6% (n=17) Side Left9% (n=125)8.8% (n=93)16.2% (n=32)  RQ1: What is a standard design layout for academic and public library websites?

20  RQ2: What are the common features and content academic and public library websites include?

21  RQ3: Who designs and maintains academic and public library websites?

22  RQ4: To what extent do academic and public library websites adhere to recommended design guidelines?

23  Information and Content is good (80% favorable rating from evaluators)  ‘snap-shot’ of library website design, content, maintenance, and usability  Main findings:  Content: Search feature, feedback, Web 2.0 features (RSS feeds, social networking, ability to state opinions or be content creators), virtual reference services, location and contact information  Design: Logo is left top header, navigation is side left, contact information is bottom center, and search box (when available) top right.  Usability: Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Satisfaction need to be designed in and frequently tested.

24 Much of these findings are in new book Library Technology and User Services (Chow & Bucknall, 2008) coming out in November  Anthony Chow anthonyschow.wordpress.com  Christian Burris

25 Liu, S Engaging users: The future of academic library websites. College and Research Libraries, 69(1), Chen, Y.H., Germain, C.A. and Yang, H. (2009). An exploration into the practices of library web usability in ARL academic libraries. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(5), Connell, R. S. (2008). Survey of web developers in academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(2), User Focus (2011). ISO standard Retrieved from on June 10, King, D. (2003). The Mom-and-Pop Shop Approach to Usability Studies. (Cover story). Computers in Libraries, 23(1), 12. Liu, S Engaging users: The future of academic library websites. College and Research Libraries, 69(1), Nielsen & Loranger (2006). Prioritizing Web Usability. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Rubin, J. (1984). Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests. Hoboken, NJ : Wiley and Sons Solomon, L Sinking or swimming? The state of web sites in Ohio’s public libraries. Retrieved from Wc3. Notes on User-Center Design Process. Retrieved from on June 11, 2011.


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