Taking the Reins: Website Redesign by the Librarians, for the Users


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Library website design from a librarian and user point of view. Presented at Pacific Northwest Library Association ( PNLA ) Annual Conference, Post Falls, Idaho, August 7, 2008 by Mark O'English.

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Taking the Reins: Website Redesign by the Librarians, for the Users

  1. 1. Taking the Reins: Website Redesign by the Librarians, for the Users Mark O’English Washington State University Pullman, WA [email_address] Pacific Northwest Library Association Annual Conference Post Falls, ID. August 7 th , 2008
  2. 2. Working with your Techies <ul><li>They are the technology experts. However, you should be the experts on your patrons. </li></ul><ul><li>Most techs are happy to let you determine the content you need and then work with you to make it work. For them, content is work and web creation is fun. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What we told our tech people we wanted…
  4. 4. What our tech people turned it into…
  5. 5. <ul><li>WSU Libraries, in 2005-2006: </li></ul><ul><li>In person visits, between all six Pullman libraries: 935,000 </li></ul>Why worry about your website? Visitors to website: 6,074,000 Any bets which direction those stats are moving in?
  6. 6. Website Redesign and Tweaking <ul><li>What have others done? </li></ul><ul><li>Research. </li></ul><ul><li>What do your patrons do (or want to do)? </li></ul><ul><li>Statistics gathering. </li></ul><ul><li>Patron modeling. </li></ul><ul><li>Usability. </li></ul><ul><li>How can you make it happen? </li></ul><ul><li>Site evaluations. </li></ul><ul><li>Card sorts. </li></ul><ul><li>Usability (again!). </li></ul><ul><li>Staff buy-in. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Research <ul><li>Lots of resources out there! </li></ul><ul><li>Jared Spool. Designing for the Scent of Information. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ For a patron to follow the correct link to where they want to be with better than a 50% chance of success, a link needs to be 7-10 words long.’ </li></ul><ul><li>www.jkup.net/ : Library Terms That Users Understand </li></ul><ul><li>Steve Krug. Don’t Make Me Think. 2000. </li></ul><ul><li>Jakob Nielsen. Designing Web Usability. 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>Susanna Davidsen. Web Site Design with the Patron in Mind. 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>Jared Spool. Web Site Usability. 1999. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Google Analytics: How To http://www.google.com/analytics/ (or just “Google” Google Analytics ) Once you sign up, it’ll give you a piece of complex coding similar to this: <script type=&quot;text/javascript&quot;> var gaJsHost = ((&quot;https:&quot; == document.location.protocol) ? &quot;https://ssl.&quot; : &quot;http://www.&quot;); document.write(unescape(&quot;%3Cscript src='&quot; + gaJsHost + &quot;google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E&quot;)); </script> <script type=&quot;text/javascript&quot;> var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(&quot;UA-3540679-3&quot;); pageTracker._initData(); pageTracker._trackPageview(); </script> Have your tech people paste that coding into the end of every website you want to track. Then tell Analytics you’re ready to go…
  9. 9. Google Analytics provides… Data on how frequently, and for how long, individual pages are being used.
  10. 10. What search terms people found your pages with. What sites people came to you from. What languages their browsers are set to. Their computers’ technical capabilities. And much much much more…
  11. 11. Other Site Analysis Tools <ul><li>If you have a “site search” box and it tracks what people enter – that tells you what keywords they’re looking for! </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hotpots”: http://www.feng-gui.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Where are people’s eyes drawn first? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Patron Modeling Three questions: 1. Who are your user groups? 2. What does each user group want? 3. How will each group look for it?
  13. 13. Usability <ul><li>What is usability testing?: </li></ul><ul><li>Lure people in. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask them to do tasks on the website. </li></ul><ul><li>3) Watch what they do. </li></ul>Usability will show you where you’re failing. The usability subjects can tell you why (maybe).
  14. 14. Our set-up: Testee in the middle at the computer. One observer perched on each desk wing, looking over their shoulders.
  16. 16. Principles of Usability Testing <ul><li>Speak in their language. No librarianese! </li></ul><ul><li>Never lead them. Give them the keys, and resist the urge to be a backseat driver. In reference terms: “open-ended questions.” </li></ul><ul><li>Why they do what they do is as important as what they actually do. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask them what they’re looking for! </li></ul>
  17. 17. Usability test a new site before you build it? <ul><li>“ Paper Prototyping”: Sit someone down with a paper mock-up and ask them: </li></ul><ul><li>What would they do? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s missing? </li></ul><ul><li>What should “X” be called instead? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Trying to break out of our own blind spots: Usability testing before design.
  19. 19. Some of our Pre-Design Results: <ul><li>Subjects loved clusters of links. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our theory: “clusters” of short links establish the context that Jared Spool’s 7-10 words establish. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Patrons liked having search boxes on the main page. </li></ul><ul><li>If they’re looking for books on a topic and have a list of types of searches they can run: they’ll run a Subject search! </li></ul><ul><li>No one knows what a “database” is! </li></ul><ul><li>Branding can be more confusing than useful if you’re not careful. </li></ul><ul><li>Its easy to get lost. Patrons need signposts! </li></ul>
  20. 20. Card Sorting
  21. 22. Staff Buy-In Your internal staff need to feel like… a) they had a voice in it, and b) its worthwhile. Share your process: Everything we just talked about gives you support! “ Usability showed our patrons did…” “ Website statistics shows that nobody uses…” “ We looked at our users and saw that group X was not represented in…” Solicit staff input!
  22. 23. Final touches? <ul><li>Online sources can let you… </li></ul><ul><li>Test for colorblindness functionality. </li></ul><ul><li>http://colorfilter.wickline.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate your coding. </li></ul><ul><li>http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate accessibility: </li></ul><ul><li>http://wave.webaim.org/ </li></ul>
  23. 24. Done? <ul><li>Websites evolve. </li></ul><ul><li>Web functionality evolves. </li></ul><ul><li>User behavior evolves. </li></ul><ul><li>User groups evolve. </li></ul><ul><li>Catalogs evolve. </li></ul><ul><li>We evolve! </li></ul><ul><li>Website redesign can be a series of small and continual steps more easily than one big project! </li></ul>