EconBiz (www.econbiz.de/en/) is a subject specific portal for business and economics. It helps locate articles, books, full-texts etc. The portal has been around for more than ten years changing shape in accordance with technical developments and user needs and expectations.
Since 2011 apps – first for iPad and iPhone, since 2012 also for Android-Smartphones- are one way to use EconBiz. (http://www.econbiz.de/en/econbiz-mobil/)
Through the apps we offer our users new ways to access our content pool of more than 8 million records. The number of features of the web-portal has been reduced in the apps. However, the apps also include additional features like a map of libraries that can be used to find a library close to the user’s location.
There are a number of future challenges we face, especially with the apps. We serve users in a specific discipline but not in a specific library. Thus, we have to find solutions for presenting availability options independent of a specific home base. However, we still need to be able to refer users back to their home libraries for licensed material or printed books. This works o.k. for German libraries since we are able to include external availability checkers. But these services do not work well in an international context. A focus on “open access only” material that we provide in EconBiz Open (open.econbiz.de) may thus be an option for the international version of the apps.
In the future, we have to decide whether it is better to improve the native apps or to offer a mobile friendly version of the web portal. Both versions have their individual advantages and disadvantages. In the long run, we might go for a web-portal optimized for mobile users but right now the stripped down apps offer much faster access to the huge content pool than the web portal and make better use of the small displays and of the hardware-specific usage.
In spring 2012, usability experts will perform a heuristic evaluation and then the usability of the apps will be tested in a student project.
I will present our experiences with the apps, the results of the usability tests and our thoughts on and options for future developments.
EconBiz was developed by the ZBW- German National Library of Economics – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and the USB – University and City Library of Cologne.
The apps were developed by the Know-Center in Graz, Austria.