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Testing and Tweaking Your Way to a Better Library Website: Improved User Experience without a Massive Site Overhaul Rebecca Hyams Cataloging, Metadata,

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Presentation on theme: "Testing and Tweaking Your Way to a Better Library Website: Improved User Experience without a Massive Site Overhaul Rebecca Hyams Cataloging, Metadata,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Testing and Tweaking Your Way to a Better Library Website: Improved User Experience without a Massive Site Overhaul Rebecca Hyams Cataloging, Metadata, and Systems Librarian SUNY Maritime College

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3 Why Evaluate? O What web designers think users want isn’t always what the users really want O Best way to find out what users want is to ask them O Usability testing was not done prior to launch of current site design O Public EDS Launch this Fall O New campus web server will support more dynamic elements

4 How did we Evaluate? O Background research on usability studies in general and case studies of library website evaluations O Three-pronged evaluation approach O Survey Monkey O Google Analytics O In-person usability testing O Informal looks over-the-shoulder when helping patrons

5 Isn’t that Excessive? O Three different methods may seem excessive O Mostly used to inform on one another O Gives us a fuller picture than any one method can O Once the Google Analytics code is in place and the Survey was made live, they both run themselves

6 Light background reading: O Jakob Neilsen and Steve Krug O Testing does not need to involve a big production or a lot of subjects O Case studies and The Journal of Web Librarianship O Most studies were done with a large site overhaul in mind O But what if you’re mostly happy with your design?

7 Website Survey O Survey Monkey link posted on the library homepage and sent out in email O Targeted instruction sessions O May have lead to overrepresentation of Freshmen students in results O Survey consisted of 18 questions O Some were targeted only to certain groups O Questions were about technology habits (frequent websites, devices, use on campus)

8 Survey Responses O 47 responses, largely undergraduates

9 When Asked About Our Site… O Results were mostly neutral-positive O No real way of knowing if the neutral response is a true neutral or the response of the apathetic O The features our patrons want are ones that will be easy to implement O Our patrons aren’t as interested in the big buzzwords in the library web services (text and chat reference, social media…)

10 Q: The SUNY Maritime Library Website is…

11 Q: Which of the following features would you like to see added to the SUNY Maritime Library website?

12 Other Interesting Findings O The majority of respondents use tablets and smartphones to connect to the internet, just not our website O 68.2% of respondents are not regular library users (self-reported) O No one wants to like/friend/follow us O When they do come to our site, they’re looking for three main things: our catalog, our databases, and our hours

13 Google Analytics O Tracking code on each page O Special code on links to external resources to track usage O Google calls these “events” O As an information portal, we want to see what people are using and how they’re getting to the information O Data is anonymous

14 Page views

15 “Events”

16 “Events” per page

17 Sessions per device type

18 In-person Study O Five participants O 1 graduate student, 3 undergraduates, 1 staff member O Number of participants recommended by usability expert Jakob Nielsen O Nine tasks made up of standard library tasks O Recorded the session using Camtasia screen capture software and a digital voice recorder

19 The Room O Testing took place in our Digital Room O Quiet and private space O Questions were given to participants one at a time on index cards O They were encouraged to think out loud, but only two participants did Oh hai digital room!

20 Task 2: “You have a big assignment due first thing on Monday morning. It’s already Friday afternoon. You want to find out when the library will be open this weekend so you can maximize your time in the library to finish your work. What are the library’s hours on Saturday and Sunday?” P1 Used hover menus on left side of homepage P2 Used hover menus and checked many options before clicking on Hours P3 "First I would go to Contact Us because that's what my brain says to do", when that didn't have what he was looking for, he decided to try the FAQ and that page just says "Coming Soon!", Then he tried "About Us" on the hover and found the link to Hours (About the Library is called About Us on internal pages) P4 First tried search box at top corner of page, thinking it would search the site (not the catalog). After ending on the catalog he returned to the homepage and then found the link to hours on the lefthand hover P5 Started off by looking at the way top header and way bottom footer (when asked, he did that because many other pages have links to their hours here). "I'm looking for an about" and then he found the About the Library link on the lefthand nested navigation and then found hours on the menu.

21 Task 2: “You have a big assignment due first thing on Monday morning. It’s already Friday afternoon. You want to find out when the library will be open this weekend so you can maximize your time in the library to finish your work. What are the library’s hours on Saturday and Sunday?” O Most popular option: O Some use of expanding “onhover” menus O Common pitfalls: O Search box in top right of header searched only catalog O FAQ page was inviting but had no content O Fixes: O Include site search feature in standard location (replacing catalog search) O Creation of FAQ page content O Featured link to library hours on secondary pages (homepage to come)

22 Task 6: “You’re taking MT250 this semester, where you will need to research the construction of a specific ship. You’re not quite sure where to begin, but you were told that there is a guide for the assignment on the library website. Find the ship construction project guide.” P1 He went right to them, using the link on the lefthand navigation (unnested version) P2 Clicked Subject Guides tab in middle of homepage, used dropdown option but selected Marine Transportation guide, then attempted a search for the guide using the search box, but the search was "this guide" only. She then adjusted her search to all guides and found it. P3 Subject guides tab in center box, clicked on dropdown and looked at the choices quickly, then used search box and typed in MT250 and it was the only search result P4 Went to the Subject Guides tab on homepage center box, went back and forth a few times between the title search and the guide list dropdown before ultimately selecting the dropdown P5 "I think I saw something before about something a teacher could give you if they drop off an assignment." He tried the course reserves link and searched for MT250 in the reserve catalog pulling up the list of reserve books. "This is for books and not really assignments". He then browsed through the lefthand homepage navigation "Maybe here under guides and tutorials?" (Nested nav). He then was on the LibGuides homepage but was slightly unsure if he had found the answer when he located the link to the guide.

23 Task 6: “You’re taking MT250 this semester, where you will need to research the construction of a specific ship. You’re not quite sure where to begin, but you were told that there is a guide for the assignment on the library website. Find the ship construction project guide.” O Most popular option: O Subject guides tab in center of homepage O Common pitfalls: O If a participant landed on a different guide they had trouble getting the one they needed O Fixes: O Ensure all guides are listed on LibGuides dropdown O Improve LibGuides content to help with navigation between guides on similar subjects

24 In-person Results O Four out of nine tasks were successfully completed by all five participants O Catalog, hours, policies, course guides O However, some tasks were completed with much difficulty, even if the answer was ultimately found O The remaining five tasks were completed by 80% of participants

25 Participant Suggestions O Clarifying language O Some language was off-putting or confusing O Design tweaks O Reordering or adding links O Simplifying pages O Paring down language and lists O A search box that searches both articles and books O When that was suggested I told them about EDS

26 What did we learn? O By far our most popular feature is the catalog search box in the middle of the homepage O Patrons turn to the search box when they don’t know where else to find information, even if the search box is just for the catalog O Overall our page design is liked by patrons, but we can do more to improve usability O No major design flaws

27 Tweaks in Progress O Google Site Search!!! (google.com/cse) O Tweaks needed so it doesn’t dredge up old content O Ours will search our site, blog, and our LibGuides O As a non-profit you can edit the configuration file so there are no ads O Some CSS trickery may be needed O (Inspect element + !important override) Default look + position:Modified look + position:

28 Tweaks in Progress O Descriptions and branding images added to tab box on homepage:

29 Tweaks in Progress O Cut down the number of catalog choices, removing SUNY Union and FirstSearch links in favor of IDS Search O With EDS (Compass) as yet another option, we had to cut back somewhere O Paradox of choice confused users O Old SUNY Union Catalog doesn’t link into ILLiad but offered false hope for requesting items O FirstSearch interface is unappealing O IDS Search chosen over WorldCat.org because of consortium limiter (set as default)

30 Tweaks in Progress O Accordion lists for otherwise lengthy walls of text O Allows us to put a lot of information on a single page, but give the users the choice of viewing it O Relatively standard web convention, familiar to users

31 Tweaks in Progress O Language changes O Attempt to make language more user-friendly, positive, and inviting O “Operational Procedures”  “Library Policies” O “BLOG”  “Library News” O “Books, DVDs, and More”  “Sextant – Catalog” O “Avoid Plagiarism”  “Citing Sources” O Emphasize the right instead of the wrong O “eJournals”  “Journals” O (the header was referring to both print and electronic resources)

32 Tweaks in Progress O Slight reorganization of navigation O Removal of pages with different URLs but identical (or nearly identical) content O Creation of logical navigation breadcrumbs O Most breadcrumbs currently are just Home>>Current Page O Creation of interstitial pages for Navigation (linked to menus and breadcrumbs) O If it looks like a link, it should at least go somewhere if you click it

33 Some Content Tweaks O Construction of an FAQ and a Scholarly Activities page (both pages were linked to but were just blank “Coming Soon!” pages) O Putting content of linked PDF files directly on page where appropriate O Putting digital archives into DSpace O General Collections Page was dominated by Government Docs O Gov Docs will get own page, General Collections page will have information on individual collections O Restructuring of Events and Exhibits Pages

34 Sneak Peaks Current: Proposed:

35 Sneak Peaks Current: Proposed: No Content!

36 Sneak Peaks Current: Proposed: Each link opens a PDF in a new window

37 Sneak Peaks Current: Proposed:

38 Big Future Changes O Dynamic PHP-based pages O Header, footer, and menu includes!! O Way more consistency with way less upkeep O Live updating calendar with Google data and our own style O Live updating new acquisitions display O Creation of short video tutorials

39 Questions/ Comments? rhyams@sunymaritime.edu (I share code!) These slides can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/TestTweakSUNYLA


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