Weave uses a traditional double-blind peer-review process to evaluate our scholarly articles. Our peer-reviewers are a mix of UX theorists and practitioners, because we strive to publish articles about both the why and the how of doing UX work in libraries.
Signage is a powerful visual tool for communication and a crucial component of the library user experience. Signage can welcome, guide, instruct, and delight users, helping them navigate the complex information world of any library. In practice, however, signage can be problematic, revealing tensions between various stakeholders, and contributing to visual noise through information overload; this often leads to signage blindness, library anxiety, and confusion. This article explores how libraries can use a design-thinking approach to improve the user experience in physical library spaces, particularly with respect to signage, based on our experience at the UTS Library, a university library in Australia that serves the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). We found that a design-thinking approach that uses the processes of empathy, problem definition, solution ideation, prototyping, and testing, can help libraries make significant and meaningful changes that can be adopted at relatively low cost.
Collecting data about where people are and what they are doing is an easy entry point into exploring the user experience of library space. This article examines projects at two academic libraries where space use data was collected multiple times per day for several months. The two projects were designed and carried out independently but had the same purpose: to better understand how students were using library spaces so that we could improve student experiences. Collecting space use data provided a baseline understanding of user behavior in these spaces. Similar to web analytics, this baseline can be useful on its own or used in conjunction with other forms of user research.
For a user, speed matters. A quick-loading web page facilitates a positive and pleasant user experience. In this article, I discuss the performance of 129 library websites, and detail a practical plan for addressing common performance issues.
This article looks at how inferred and contextual aspects of a search query can offer new ways of thinking about the search results page. Data mining for user context requires using techniques to understand the intentions behind search queries and the physical/network locations of our users. By applying the residual machine cues inherent to the search act and using semantic query analysis, we can improve user experience to anticipate user needs and introduce personal context. This is anticipatory design in practice. In the article, I define the components of anticipatory design, consider the privacy implications of anticipatory systems, examine how our search interfaces as a primary interaction model lend themselves to anticipatory design, and look at how inferred and contextual cues can be brought into a search prototype to improve the search user experience.
While usability testing is primarily applied to websites, it can and should be applied to many aspects of the library. Standing usability teams are an ideal means of improving usability across the library. As usability is applied to more library projects and usability skills develop, the library moves towards a culture of usability. This paper explores the creation of web usability teams as a means to develop a culture of usability and examines the steps taken by Memorial University Libraries to move in this direction.
This paper explores service design as a relevant method for service assessment and creation in a library environment. Service design allows for a holistic and systemic look at the various systems that make a library function. This methodology is a co-creative process conducted with library staff and patrons. By working together, librarians and patrons can create more relevant services or refine current services to be more effective and efficient.
This paper demonstrates how user interactions can be measured and evaluated with A/B testing, a user experience research methodology. A/B testing entails a process of controlled experimentation whereby different variations of a product or service are served randomly to users in order to determine the highest performing variation. This paper describes the principles of A/B testing and details a practical web-based application in an academic library. Data collected and analyzed through this A/B testing process allowed the library to initiate user-centered website changes that resulted in increased website engagement and improved user experience. A/B testing is presented as an integral component of a library user experience research program for its ability to provide quantitative user insights into known UX problems.
Conducting user research doesn't have to be difficult, time consuming, or expensive. Your Library website can be improved through user research even if you have design restrictions because of a prescribed branding scheme, content management system, or any other reason. At Simmons College in Boston, we recently performed a user research study that took an in-depth look at the content organization and wording of links on the Library homepage. We conducted an in-person paper survey using paper prototypes to collect feedback from Library users. Based on the research findings, we made significant updates to the Library homepage that make it much easier for users to find the information they need.
Unless otherwise noted, all content in Weave UX is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) in order to allow for the greatest possible dissemination of our authors’ work. Our authors always retain copyright to their work.