On Monday, May 25, the new central library website officially launched!
The project, which took over a year to complete, employed a user-centered design approach. This methodology puts all users at the heart of the design process by making them active participants in the project from beginning to end. Here’s how the process unfolded:
As part of the user research process, the ITS team analyzed data from a wide range of sources, including Google Analytics, LibQual, surveys from similar library projects, and anonymized Ask a Librarian chats.
The team also interacted with users in person, hosting focus groups, interviewing users, and observing their behaviour on the library website. User feedback, which was submitted via Blackboard, was also an important source of information for the team.
Based on this user research, the team was able to create personas and user journeys, which helped the team to identify priorities for the redesign process. Card sorting was used to determine possible information architectures for the new site.
(Team members doing card sorting.)
Keeping lines of communication open
Once development was underway, it was important to the team that users continued to have ways to provide feedback and suggestions. As designs for the homepage and internal pages were created, they were released to users in person and online. Feedback was sought via whiteboards in the Robarts library, online Guide on the Side tutorials, and Twitter.
(What happened when we left a whiteboard with sample homepage designs in the Robarts lobby.)
(A Guide on the Side tutorial from the redesign project.)
(A tweet asking for user feedback.)
Users were also able to offer their comments and suggestions via a feedback flag on the site throughout the development process. This feedback was managed through JIRA, which enabled the team to notice, and act on, common problems and recommendations.
(The feedback form available on the new site during development.)
Two rounds of usability testing were included in the project: one following the launch of the alpha site, and the other following the launch of the beta site. Members of all user groups were invited to participate.
(Tweet inviting users to participate in usability testing.)
Testing during the alpha phase focused on the site’s content and structure, while testing during the beta phase focused on the site’s various search mechanisms, including Summon.
Major changes you’ll notice
Based on our user research, feedback, and usability testing, the new site features:
- A simplified search process: A single search box in the top left-hand corner will search both library resources and web content. Search results are sorted by library resource type (e.g. books, articles, journals). Our Google Custom Search feature will automatically look for web content that contains your search terms.
- Updated Summon interface: You can now access Summon directly from the homepage. If you like, you can immediately specify whether you would like to search for scholarly articles, magazine articles, or newspaper articles. The interface has also been updated to match the website design.
- More prominent LibGuides search: You could always do keyword searches to find LibGuides that relate to your research topic, but this feature is more visible on the new LibGuides homepage. In addition, we still list LibGuides by subject, course code, and library.
- In-demand information on the homepage: Sometimes, you just want to know when we’re open. Basic library information, like our locations and hours, is now right on the homepage.
- “Services” navigation menu: Now, you can view the Libraries’ services at a glance. Whether you would like to arrange a research consultation with a librarian or preserve your research in TSpace, you can find more information about how librarians can help you from a single point of access.
- Responsive design: The site automatically adapts to the size of your screen, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
- Full accessibility: The new site is compliant to WCAG 2.0 Level AA, which is above what’s required by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
We’ll be running a third round of usability testing soon, to see how well the website is meeting your needs. Stay tuned to the central library website, the ITS website, and our Twitter account for more information.
You can also contact us at any time to let us know what you think of the new site: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to everyone who helped us make this website great. We couldn’t have done it without you!