Minor Redesign to the NNELS Website

The last time I really worked on the website, I did not change the look of the site at all, simply using the existing look and making it responsive. After some feedback and based on general good UX practices, I made a couple of mock ups on how to improve the site with some minor changes. Continue reading “Minor Redesign to the NNELS Website”

Making the NNELS Site Responsive

Honestly, making a site responsive is nothing new, not even for me. Nevertheless, I wanted to document the process (no surprise there). Since as of the date of publishing this post, the responsive version of the theme hasn’t gone live yet, you get a sneak peek. Continue reading “Making the NNELS Site Responsive”

Revised Contact Us: Making it Simpler and Shorter

While the Contact page is one of the most visited pages, I had put it off for a time, wanting to redesign the pages that really needed work first. While not the best, the Contact page was functional and was easy enough to skim. After redoing the other pages though, the Contact page started to look ugly in comparison. Continue reading “Revised Contact Us: Making it Simpler and Shorter”

Services Redesign & Content Overhaul

Not too long ago, I posted about the revised IA of the Services section of the website. Staff consultations followed particularly to apprise them of recommended changes and to take the opportunity to revise the content. I created mockups, which I got feedback on. Finally, the page went live.

Consultation is Key

Based on the revised IA, I began an extensive consultation process with all the teams involved. While the methods differed, the most common process was by meeting with the librarian in charge, who would discuss the changes with the team and then assign a technician to help with the content revision. At other times, I just asked the librarian if they would have a problem with someone else revising the page.

I focused on the fact that the recommended changes were based on exercises with both staff and students. While the content could stay more or less the same, it was also a good opportunity for the team to make revisions. (Some pages hadn’t been revised in 10 years.)

For the most part, the major changes were discussed with the librarians and the assigned technician took care of the detailed content revision. I also did all the revisions for the technology area, since that’s under our team’s purview. Librarians that didn’t have a technician to help, I assigned the pages to the technician who does web editing support or the co-op student (who also helped with pages that have no owners).

The Old Services

The Services section was comprised of 125 pages, and the landing page looked like this:

Old Services Landing Page
Old Services Landing Page

Pretty awful, isn’t it? The old IA was a bit of a mess as well, and a lot of pages had the same information or just a single paragraph. The organization seems to have come about via the “we should make a page about this, and put it here”, meaning there doesn’t seem to have been a strict management of content. Not sure duplication of content was reviewed in any way either.

From the card sort, it’s obvious that some of the pages are definitely not where users might typically look for them. Here’s the list of pages in the old IA:

Services
    Audio-Visual Resources & Services
        Searching for Audio-Visual Material
        Bookings
        Borrowing Audio Visual Material
        AV Copyright
        DVD Player Lending
        Digitized AV Resources
        Equipment
        Screening Facility
        Search Other AV Collections
        Other Audio Visual Resources
    Borrow from Another Library
        Search Other Libraries
        NRC-CISTI Discover
        Borrow in Person from Other Libraries
        RACER (Interlibrary Loan)
            Using RACER
            RACER FAQ
            Tips for Faster Interlibrary Loans
        Policies
            Ryerson’s Lending Policies for External Institutions
        Article Not Available @ Ryerson
        Request this Title via Interlibrary Loan
    Borrower Services
        Circulation Records Privacy
        Courtesy Notices
        Direct Borrowing
        Extended Loans
        Fines & Penalties
        Holds
        Library Cards
            Alumni & Retirees
            Application Forms
            Distance Education Library Cards
            Faculty & Staff Library Cards
            George Brown Library Cards
            Nursing Library Cards
            Others
            Student Library Cards
        Loan Periods
        Lost Library Materials
        Maximum Items Borrowed
        Recalling Library Materials
        Renewing Materials
        Returning Library Material
        Self Services
        Special Loans
    Course Readings (One-stop Service) - no changes to subpages
    Facilities & Technology
        Access from Home
        Change Machines
        Computer Labs
        Lost and Found
        Photocopying
        Printing
        Study Space
        Telephones
        Washrooms
        Wireless Access (wifi)
    Instructional Services
    Laptop Loan Program
        Laptop Loan FAQ
    Ronald D. Besse Information & Learning Commons
        About the Commons/FAQ
            Besse Commons Hours
            Codes of Conduct
            Floorplan
            Mission
            Photo Gallery
            Ronald D. Besse
            Software
            Vision
        Geospatial, Map and Data Centre
        Instructional Services
        Learning Commons Lab (ILC)
        Research Help Services
        Technology Support
        Writing Centre
    Services for Distance Education Students
    Services for Faculty
        Audio Visual Services
        Direct Borrowing
        Electronic Resources
        Faculty Borrowing
        Library Cards
        Ordering
        Orientation Classes
        Reference Services
        Targeting Journals for Publication
            Instructions for Authors
            Journal Impact Factors
            Periodical Directories
            Periodical Title Abbreviations
            Recent Publications
            Refereed Journals
    Services for Graduate Students
        Borrowing & Renewing
        Computers & Study Space
        Direct Borrowing
        Graduate Workshops
        Reference Services - Graduates
        Thesis Submission
    Services for Persons with Disabilities - no changes to subpages

Content Revision & The Authoritative Copy

Other than merging a bunch of pages and getting rid of redundant ones, I consolidated a lot of information where we needed one “authoritative” copy: hours, policies, and fines. It is particularly important that we do not have conflicting information for circulation staff, because they are the ones that deal with fines, and lost and damaged items. Obviously, this also prevents confusion and possible frustration on the part of our users. A short guideline now exists on our intranet in regards to this issue.

We also moved our existing FAQ pages to LibAnswers, our FAQ database.

A couple of the ‘Services for…’ pages don’t really belong to anyone and they suffered from some of the same problems as the old Services page. I got our co-op student to look them over and suggest changes. Here’s what we came up with for the Graduates page:

We decided to take out redundant links, and links that were not of special interest. Then, obviously, we decided to categorize them a little so it was easier to read.

Mockups

As per usual, I created a number of mockups for the web committee to review. In an attempt to make it look a little more consistent with Research Help, I used the coloured boxes motif and played around with different ways of organizing the pages.

People were actually very against the boxes, and I agreed that it seemed like trying to force the look on Services. Based on the feedback on which they did prefer, I created clean black and white versions of two of the original mockups.

The group preferred mockup #1 with the icons on the right hand side. After a couple of more changes based on the committee’s feedback, I posted it in the staff room and sent it out by email as well. Sadly, I didn’t get any feedback though I suppose that’s not necessarily bad.

Services Revised

After all the consultations and content revisions, we pared Services to 90 pages (vs. 125). This is the final version of the IA:

Services
    Audio-Visual Resources & Services
        Searching for Audio-Visual Material
        Booking AV Material
        Borrowing AV Material
        Digitized AV Resources
        Other AV Resources
    Borrower Services
        Fines & Penalties
        Holds and Recalling Materials
        Library Cards
            Alumni & Retirees
            Application Forms
            Distance Education Library Cards
            Faculty & Staff Library Cards
            George Brown Library Cards
            Nursing Library Cards
            Others
            Student Library Cards
        Loan Periods
        Lost Library Materials
        Returning Library Material
        Self Services
    Borrow from Another Library
        Direct Borrowing
        Search Other Libraries
        RACER (Interlibrary Loan)
            Using RACER
            Tips for Faster Interlibrary Loans
        Request this Title via Interlibrary Loan
    Course Readings (One-stop Service)- no changes to subpages
    Facilities & Spaces
        Computer Labs
            Software
        Lost and Found
        Ronald D. Besse Information & Learning Commons
            About the Commons
                Codes of Conduct
                Mission & Vision
                Photo Gallery
                Ronald D. Besse
            Geospatial, Map and Data Centre
            Learning Commons Lab (ILC)
            Writing Centre
        Study Space
        Telephones
        Washrooms
        Viewing AV
    Instructional Services
    Research Help Services
    Technology & Tools
        Access from Home
        Change Machines
        DVD Player Loan
        Laptop Loan Program
        Photocopying
        Printing
        RefWorks
        Technology Assistance
        Wireless Access (WiFi)
    Services for Distance Education Students
    Services for Faculty
        Scholarly Communication
            Journal Impact Factors
            Open Access Author Fund
            Refereed Journals
    Services for Graduate Students
        Graduate Workshops
    Services for Persons with Disabilities - no changes to subpages

The ILL pages haven’t actually been revised yet as they were busy with their projects, but that should happen in the next little while. The page count and the new IA are based on an already revised section of ILL, so that may differ from what actually happens in the future.

I also ended up writing a fairly long email to list all the changes as requested that I sent out to all staff.

The final version turned out fairly well I think.

New Services Page
New Services Page

About Us Redesign & Reorganization

The website redesign continues! Next up is the ‘About Us’ section. I find it more difficult to do sometimes, because our users don’t use the About section nearly as much, so don’t always have much of an opinion about it. Although it goes against my usual inclination, I decided to go ahead with only minimal feedback. Continue reading “About Us Redesign & Reorganization”

Redesigning the Digital Commons Page

Recently, our team has been assisting with a new initiative to make sure documents sent in to our institutional repository (IR) are accessible. I won’t go into much detail, but since this new initiative was being launched, it was proposed to have the digital commons (our IR) page redesigned for the launch.

Old Page

The old page was really just a lot of text, and too much of it. I’m also not sure how long it had been since anyone had revised it. The biggest problem was that it was difficult to find what you wanted, especially how or where to submit a document.

Old Digital Commons Page
Old Digital Commons Page

Mockups

So the first mockup was actually given to me by the group working on the IR project. While a vast improvement over the original page, I was not a fan of the quadrant look. I’m probably biased because it was overused at my last work place, but regardless, I thought I could do better.

Mockup #1
Mockup #1

One thing that didn’t make sense to me was why you would have a link to a search page instead of just building in a search on the page (same with the news). While a search box was thought of, I’m not sure how it would’ve worked into the square design. I was actually working on the Articles redesign around the same time, so I ended up using some of the ideas I had floating around in my head already.

Mockup #2
Mockup #2

The colours I used were based on the first mockup, which were in turn based on the IR site’s colours.

Redesigned Page

The redesigned page came out pretty much exactly as the mockup. However, the project members called me the day after to tell me that the green shows as a very ugly yellow if the screen or projector is not properly calibrated. So, I ended up changing the colours to our library’s colours.

Current New Digital Commons Page
Current New Digital Commons Page

Most of the text that was on the original page is now on the About page linked from this landing page. I think it’s a huge improvement, so hopefully it helps to encourage more of our users to submit things to our IR.

Revised Articles Section & New Landing Page: Using a Card Sort to Clean Up

As part of the ongoing effort to improve the website, I have been redesigning the website one section at a time. Earlier in the term, I did the Research Help section. In the last couple of weeks (that’s right, only about 2-3 weeks!), I worked on getting the ‘Articles’ section cleaned up with a new landing page.

old articles page
Old Articles Landing Page

Card Sort to Clean Up

old articles menuI knew that I wouldn’t have time to do a proper card sort study, but I decided to do a card sort with the web committee. We have enough people that I divided the committee up into two groups and gave them sticky notes with the names of the existing pages.

The sticky notes consistent all the local navigation links from the left side of the existing page and the second level links you see in the expanded part of the ‘More’ menu here (right). Then, I gave the usual instructions for a silent open card sort (no talking, group as you see fit).

While the purpose of a card sort is not to help clean up a section, it really got staff to see what fit in the Articles section and what didn’t. A lot of the pages were also deemed no longer relevant.

As a group, we made decisions on what to remove, and what to move and where. Quite a lot of the content was moved to either our subject research guides or our FAQ system.

There were one or two pages that we couldn’t decide what to do with, so for the time being they’ve been left where they are for now (e.g. RefWorks page is still in the ‘Articles’ menu though not linked on the landing page).

Mockups

With the pages that were left, I created a few mockups.

The web committee met again to discuss the mockups. I already had my heart set on either #2 or #3, because the whole idea is that it’s simple and clear. Having only one search bar with just a few links give users focus on what they’re looking for. Different people had different preferences on mockups, but with some discussion, the group settled on mockup #3 with a few revisions.

Staff Feedback

As with the research help page, I posted the revised Articles mockup in the staff room to give everyone a chance to provide feedback. This time, I didn’t get any feedback that resulted in any changes, so the final page is the same as the revised version.

New Page

Even though I’m on vacation, I wanted to get the new page up before the next term, so the new ‘Articles’ landing page went up this week.

new articles page

Getting Quick Feedback: Updating the Help Page

In the past month or so, it became very evident to many of the librarians that the research help page on our site needed to be revamped. As we’ll be piloting a new “Book a Librarian” service next month, I thought it would be a good time to roll out a new help page as well.

Old Research Help Page

There were so many problems with this page, not least of which was that the page and the sidebar had the exact same links only in a different order.

We had a bit of a tight timeline, since I essentially had 3-4 weeks to make mockups, discuss it with the group, get feedback from staff and students, make the page, and get it live.

Getting Quick Feedback

Part 1: The “Committee”

It wasn’t a formal committee, but it was essentially an ad hoc working group. I presented all three mockups to the group. If the group couldn’t agree on one, then I would have taken two of the mockups to staff and students for feedback. However, since the group felt quite strongly about mockup #3, I decided to go ahead with that mockup to gather feedback.

Part 2: Asking the Students – Survey

I decided to do two versions of the mockup based on the meeting’s discussions. Mockup #4 is exactly the same as mockup #3 except with the chat widget in the middle.

Mockup #4

We taped the mockups on a movable whiteboard and offered candy as incentive. We pulled students aside as they walked past on the main floor and asked them some basic questions on:

  • how easy it is to find what they’re looking for,
  • whether they understood all the terms, and
  • which design they preferred and why.

We had decided on getting however many students we could in an hour. Since it was a quieter day, we ended up with 7 students.

Part 3: Asking the Staff – Open “Silent Forum”

In order for all staff to have a chance to provide feedback, without having to gather them all together, we decided to post the mockups in the staff room with a couple of questions to think about (similar to the student ones). Sticky note pads and a pen were left for staff to write their comments.

The Results

Of the students we asked, more of them preferred #3 with the chat on the side, because they would never use it. On the other hand, the students who preferred #4 thought the right-side chat widget would be ignored or even mistaken as an ad. Other reasons for #4 included:

  • balanced and symmetrical
  • more aesthetically pleasing
  • better division of groupings
  • helps to promote the Ask chat service

Of the staff that provided feedback, they unanimously chose #4 for many of the same reasons that students provided.

Other feedback resulted in my adding:

  • a header for the chat widget,
  • “Hours & privacy policy” link for chat widget,
  • hover behaviour for chat widget,
  • tooltip text for “TRSM”, and
  • changing the wording of “YouTube” to avoid branding.

While we could’ve gotten more feedback, I think we got enough to help improve the page and implicit confirmation that it works.

New Research Help Page

Launch

The page, along with the new “Book a Librarian” service and a revised “Research Help Services” page is set to go live on Oct 1.

We will likely also be changing the “Ask Us” logo in the header to direct to this page as opposed to the “Contact Us” page as it does now. Hopefully, it’ll help to promote our services and resources, and get people to the right place.