Pull quote: “This then got me thinking about how database interfaces are just plain awful. They are not intuitive. I like to think that if they were, then we wouldn’t need to have classes on how to use them in the first place. Secondly, databases may not necessarily engage the user in a meaningful way. Look at Wikipedia for instance. Wikipedia links its pages back and forth throughout the site. If there is a term that a user sees on a Wikipedia page, 9 times out 10, a user can gain more information about that term and read about it. I feel there are very few resources that allow one to do that. I also feel that the database pages are so overwhelming. There are numerous fields, check mark boxes, and jargon labels that it can be a bit much for an incoming freshman who’s experience with online research may just be Google.com. What’s the solution? Already, it seems that APIs may be the best way to go. If there’s a coder who can construct a better interface, or even better yet, tailor it to a particular audience, then we don’t need the boring, overwhelming front-end of x database. I’ve also seen more databases, APIs and discovery services that are using the one search box form of interface that students who have grown with the Internet are accustom to.”

Pull quote: “Users recognize a magnifying-glass icon as meaning ‘search’ even without a textual label. The downside is that icon-only search is harder for users to find.”

Pull quote: “The usability team is taking cues from traditional retailers in an effort to improve the patron experience at MCLS and Rochester libraries. ‘They are doing patron observation and mystery shopper exercises and have identified a customer service training model that can be used system[wide],’ Uttaro said of the usability team’s activities in the months since it took shape. The team has recently started shooting videos that will be used to train librarians in all 21 branches to provide better customer service.”

Pull quote: “I knew I needed to test new ideas before putting money and effort into creating a final product. One example of this was how we created the new library directory. I would go up to students in different parts of the library and say things like, ‘I know this may seem like a silly question, but what would you call this room?’ Then, when I had a good draft of the list we wanted to use, I did the opposite - asked patrons, ‘I’m testing something for a new directory. Where in the library would you find [fill in the blank]?’”

Pull quote: “I’m starting to see that getting students involved in co-designing services is the next logical step on from usability testing. So instead of a process where you design a system and then test it on users, you involve them from the start, by asking them what they need, maybe then getting them to feedback on solution designs and specifications and then going through the design process of prototyping, testing and iterating, by getting them to look at every stage.”

Pull quote: “Our user testing showed confusion about article searching with significant numbers going to the eJournal portal (an A-Z listing from Serials Solutions) browsing for a likely journal title, then browsing the issues for a relevant article.”

Pull quote: “This example design is flawed in so many ways, but the worst offense is probably in making something move that should be static. It’s sad to think that extra money was wasted on jazzing up this design with harmful moving features, rather than just creating simple content that clearly communicates the company’s value proposition.”

Pull quote: “Would you like an even more intimate glimpse into what users are actually doing on your site, instead of what you (or the library web committee) think they are doing? There are several easy-to-use web-based analytics services like ClickTale , userfly, Loop11, Crazy Egg, Inspectlet, or Optimalworkshop. These online usability services offer various ways to track what users are doing as they actually navigate your pages — all without setting up a usability lab, recruiting participants, or introducing the artificiality and anxiety of an observed user session.”

Pull quote: “I wonder: do we have some sort of amnesia about our professional history? Why haven’t been building on these ideas since 1939?”

Pull quote: “I started using the term Bootstrap UX, when I wanted to describe the type of work that I was doing in my then-new position as the UX Office at Fondren Library, Rice University. Most of the anthropologists that are involved in library work right now, such as, Nancy Foster, and Andrew Asher, do year-long, grant-funded studies for their institutions. I wanted to explore doing short, intensive, 6-15 week (unfunded) ethnographic studies or usability tests, that could inform, and help drive service decisions, with Foster’s and Asher’s (ERIAL) work as a firm foundation.”

Pull quote: “The one trend all 4 students had in common was their reliance on Google Scholar for search and discovery of scholarly content. When our testing routines asked them to use the search functionality on the SAGE journals site, they often asked if they could use Google Scholar instead. They preferred to go out of the journal site, search Google, and return to the specific page within the site they were after – instead of searching the site itself. They reported only using their library catalog if they were looking for the print copy of something specific.”

Pull quote: “One of the fundamental concepts in UX is notion of affordance: the idea that objects should behave in the manner that their appearance suggests. A push plate on a door affords pushing; a handle afford pulling. How many times have you walked up to a door and found it behaved contrary to your expectations? Invariably this is caused by a mismatch between form and function. Likewise, the design of the search box should follow its function. Its purpose is to allow the user to enter queries in the form of keywords, so it should look like it will accept textual input, and have an associated button that clearly indicates its function.”

Pull quote: “Kupersmith recommends that libraries avoid frequently misunderstood terms; use natural language equivalents on top-level pages, and adding explanations of potentially confusing terms in mouseover, tooltip, glossary or graphic form. He also recommends that if a top level menu choice is ambiguous, libraries use an intermediate page; and provide an alternative path for predictable wrong choices, as well as being consistent across publications.”

Pull quote: “If you went car shopping, you would cross off your list the one with completely different controls positioned in unexpected places. That’s because your perception of what that experience should be determines your expectations. Convenience is determined by perceptions, and when the actual experience is more difficult than what it was expected to be the result is inconvenience. That’s a perfect way to explain the challenges presented by most library search systems. If you were expecting a Google experience, and then you are presented with the Ebscohost interface it’s going to effect your perception of convenience. That’s why more Google-like discovery search systems will ultimately deliver that perception of convenience – at least until the user gets to the results screen or tries to get to some full-text articles.”

Pull quote: “The librarians quoted here understand most of the key problems, and are especially sharp about “the myth of the digital native” — about which see also this deeply sobering Metafilter thread — but there’s one vital issue they’re neglecting: research databases have the worst user interfaces in the whole world.”