Forthcoming: Margaret Brown-Sica, Jeffrey Beall, and Nina McHale, “Next-Generation Library Catalogs and the Problem of Slow Response Time,” Information Technology and Libraries, Volume 29/4, December 2010, 207-216.
Are NextGen catalogs—or traditional catalogs that add NextGen content—too slow? Do 2.0/NextGen features slow them down too much?
Yup. Features such as cover art, reviews, tagging, etc., can significantly increase the amount of data, and therefore time, required to return a catalog record page. Performance factors, particularly speed, should be required criteria for librarians and vendors evaluating and designing products.
W3C does not set forth standards Jakob Nielsen 0.1 of a second: feels “instantaneous” 1.0 second: feels “uninterrupted” 10 seconds: “About the limit for keeping the user’s attention focused on the dialogue.” Give the user “time-remaining” feedback Jakob Nielsen, Usability Engineering (San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann, 1994) 135.
During a busy time during the semester, we recorded response times in seconds of permalinks for three catalog records Tested our classic/NextGen catalogs and three others 3 books, 5 catalogs, 3 times per day for 13 days=585 data points Collecting several data points in this way using www.websitepulse.com ensured that data was consistent
Library of Congress Catalog Voyager Traditional catalog University of Texas at Austin Innovative Interfaces Traditional catalog with added NextGen elements University of Southern California Sirsi/Dynix Traditional catalog with added NextGen elements
Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience. Washington, DC: Special Inspector General, Iraq Reconstruction, 2009. (OCLC number 302189848) Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. 1st ed. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2001. (OCLC number 256770509) Langley, Lester D. Simón Bolívar: Venezuelan Rebel, American Revolutionary. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, c2009. (OCLC number 256770509)
WebSite Pulse™ www.websitepulse.com Allows testing on any web page/site; does not require server installation Similar services: websiteoptimization.com browsermob.com tools.pingdom.com your favorite?
Auraria’s Skyline: 1.2930 Auraria’s WCL: 11.5734 Library of Congress: 2.1530 University of Texas at Austin: 3.4997 University of Southern California: 4.1085
After data was analyzed, we took a closer look at each individual catalog, using the Hard Lessons catalog record WebSitePulse™ allowed us to take a glimpse at the inner workings of each catalog Findings confirmed that extra data and load times were from 2.0/NextGen content
Added NextGen features: Cover art LibraryThing’s Catalog Enhancement Supports recommendations, tag browsing, alternate editions/translations 2.4674 seconds: user experience interrupted 19 items, 138.84 K Cover art nearly doubles response time Item 14: script on ILS that queries Amazon for art
Slowest among traditional catalogs; Sirsi/Dynix takes longer to make initial connection (Item 1 on graph) 8.7295 seconds (though average was 4.1085 seconds) 16 items, 148.47 K While attractive and well-integrated, Syndetic Solutions content (cover art, summary, author biography, and table of contents) adds 1.2 seconds to load time
“The new database seems based on Amazon.com. I don’t need suggestions, and poor ones at that, of related books when I use the library. I don’t need to see what other borrowers thought of the book. The information I need is poorly displayed. It is hard to cut and paste. It takes several screens to scan through, instead of the much quicker scroll in the traditional format…. It supplies distracting, if not useless information (a picture of the cover, the distance to other libraries—as if I need to know how far Provo is).” -Auraria Campus Faculty Member
Make performance testing part of evaluation process for vendor products Adhere to industry standards for acceptable response times when testing Optimize delivery of 2.0/NextGen features as much as possible Conduct user testing to ensure that the content is “worth the wait” to their minds