UBC Education Library Redesign

This is another assignment, this time from Planning and Design class. Our assignment was essentially to redesign a space. I decided to do a minimal, practical redesign for the Education Library. Although I did send the library a copy, the project reflects my personal views and was not commissioned by UBC Library, etc. (insert usual disclaimer). Finally, please note that the letter introducing the report and appendices are only available in the full report (which if you want a copy/see, you’ll have to e-mail me) as it is a long enough post already without them and the appendices include some copyrighted photos.

If you find the report too long to read, check out the presentation design board that I made instead (or do both!):

Education Library Redesign on Prezi

Purpose & Goals

This report makes recommendations for changes to the University of British Columbia (UBC) Education Library in order to provide greater access and a better environment for its users. The proposal was encouraged by the demands and comments by various users. While users are primarily Faculty of Education students (undergraduate and graduate), users include any person who walks into the library including faculty, community users, and staff. While community users frequently include alumni and working professionals, recently, there has been an increase of families with children using the library, especially on weekends, and such usage is likely to continue to increase with the expansion of housing on and near the university campus.

The propositions and goals of the redesign are based on observations and interactions with users while taking into account the constraints on staff, budget, space, and technology. Some of the common requests and complaints include:

  • not enough computer workstations,
  • lack of express use station with Internet access,
  • lack of quiet study (that is actually quiet), and
  • confusing layout of materials.

Other recommendations are based on observations rather than direct comments from users. The goals of the redesign focus on making better use of the existing space and thus, recommendations are made to fulfill the following goals:

  • create defined spaces with a clear purpose to each space within the library,
  • increase navigation, access, and use by consolidating collections,
  • maximize the use of natural lighting, and
  • meet users’ needs.


Meeting users’ needs and providing for library users are core to the vision and mission of the library. Meeting the redesign goals will assist in moving the Education library towards fulfilling the goals of the library’s strategic plan, particularly in providing excellent access, service, and an open, inclusive environment. The redesign goals are beneficial to both library patrons and staff.

  • Creating defined spaces:
    • provides a clear purpose to a space,
    • decreases amount of noise in quiet study areas, and
    • delineates which areas noise is allowed versus quiet study.
  • Increasing navigation, access, and use by consolidating collections:
    • allow for better wayfinding and greater efficiency for both patrons and staff,
    • provide a more intuitive layout to the library,
    • decrease the number of directional questions, and
    • increase use and security of resources.
  • Maximizing the use of natural lighting:
    • contributes to aesthetic,
    • has positive psychological effects,1 and
    • instills the sense of an open environment.

Overall, library users’ satisfaction and library use should both increase.

Constraints & Solutions

The recommendations have been written based on current constraints, including:

  • lack of funding,
  • minimal staff resources,
  • technology determined by central library IT, and
  • use of the existing space.

To work around these restrictions, the recommendations are based on minimizing spending and contract or outsourcing by reusing furniture and equipment where possible (see Appendix A, Budget Summary), and employing the time of staff. As well, changes of higher priority are presented, while some aspects of the library work well and should not be changed, such as:

  • carpet, shelving, and other furniture are durable, mostly wood or neutral colours, and help to absorb sound,
  • lighting, which is bright and diffused, and
  • shades are already installed to control natural lighting for times when sunlight might be too glaring or hot.

Keeping interruptions to access and services for patrons was also an important consideration in creating the recommendations.

The Redesign

Defining Spaces

The library is primarily used by students (undergraduate and graduate) to work or study individually, work or study in groups, read, eat, and socialize. It is important for students and other users to know which areas are appropriate for which activities. However, the current layout of the library confuses readers as spaces are diffused and spread out. In particular, group study areas are next to or in the same space as quiet study areas, such as in the Course Reserve Area, which has study carrels next to the copiers, and the Lower Level Area, which has workstations in study carrels in the group study area (see original floor plans in Appendix B). Noise also becomes a major issue as the upper level is open to the lower level (see Appendix B Redesigned Upper Level), thus allowing sounds from the group study area on the lower level to disturb the quiet study on the upper level. The lack of defined spaces also causes problems for staff as they cannot take action if there are complaints about patrons that are, in fact, using the space appropriately.

In order to create defined spaces of which users can understand the purpose without needing signage, similar types of furniture should be used in a single area. The Lower Level Area should have all large tables removed with only study carrels (with or without computers). Similarly, the study carrels in the Course Reserve Area and Workstations area should be removed. To encourage group work in the Workstations Area, the reference collection should be moved to make more room for group tables, and the computers currently in carrels would be on long tables and spaced, allowing multiple people to work on a single computer (see Appendix B Redesigned Upper Level). To minimize the costs of new furniture, the existing furniture can simply be moved around (see Appendix A for details). While signage can be used to assist in the use of the spaces, the type of furniture and their layout would be enough to signal to users which areas are for quiet study and which areas are for group work.

Reading areas would likewise be defined by the use of reading chairs, but would be placed next to windows in order to maximize the use of natural lighting, such as in the Journals Stairway Area and the Lower Level CCBC Area. The one major change needed is to shift the CCBC collection away from the window to allow more space for the reading chairs to create a ‘cozier’ space (see Appendix B Redesigned Lower Level). The reading areas are also purposely kept near non-circulating collections that patrons may want to read while in the library.

Consolidating Collections

In addition to creating defined spaces, consolidating collections will assist in providing a more intuitive layout for better wayfinding, navigation, access, use, and efficiency. Mainly, patrons have difficulty finding new journal issues as the display is in the Course Reserves Area, and not clearly visible, while the rest of the journals are in the upper level stacks area. It is highly recommended to move the journal display next to the journal stacks area. Furthermore, the reference and historical collections should be moved to the Course Reserve Area for greater security (behind another security gate) as well as to have all the smaller collections in a single area (see Appendix B Floor Plans). With this setup, only the books, videos, journals, and CCBC collection will be outside of the Course Reserve Area, providing a simpler layout and possibly decreasing the number of directional questions.

Increasing Access

Further to defining space and consolidating collections, other changes can be made to increase access and use to the library, its collections, and resources. For example, one of the most common concerns patrons seem to have is the number of computer workstations for use, especially for the purposes of printing. Therefore, it is recommended that one of the standing height computers be changed to an express station for printing and quick use. As well, two additional computers can be added on the Lower Level for quiet work.

One way to increase access and better navigation is to improve flow of pedestrian traffic. For example, notices are currently taped on the security gate as well as put on signs in various places. If patrons stop to read the notices, the entrance and exit may be blocked. Thus, the purchase of an announcement board is highly recommended to be placed in the small niche area next to the security gates (see Appendix A and B for details). Similarly, a book display currently sits in the niche (where patrons are unlikely to want to stop to read), another book display is currently next to computers (preventing student use of the table space), and a third book display is in a trophy case (which makes the books inaccessible). Purchasing a new book display will not only allow greater accessibility to books, but will also enhance the use of the space and encourage patrons to stop and read (see Appendix A for details).

Some areas of the library are currently also underused, but the most likely reason is because they are cluttered with furniture. To increase use and access, unused furniture should be removed, such as the locker and shelving in the Journals Stairway Area, and the extra reading chairs in the Lower Level CCBC Area (see Appendix A and B for details). Staff should also make sure not to put portable furniture, such as book carts, in patron used areas. In particular, the Journals Stairway Area is rather narrow, and though optional, it is highly recommended to change the new issues display to a slat wall display for optimal space usage, and easy access (see Appendix A for details). Ideally, users will feel welcome and comfortable using any of the spaces for reading and studying.

Implementation – User Input & Assessment

When implementing any redesign, users should have input into the recommendations as the mission and vision of the library are focused on providing for and supporting users. Current recommendations have been made based on patron feedback, however, further user input should be gathered to ensure that the redesign is aligned with users’ priorities. Different methods can be used to collect data, such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Considering the constraints on resources and time, surveys are recommended for easier scoring and taking up less staff time to facilitate.

Based on user input, recommendations can be added or changed to better address patrons’ needs and priorities. The study should include questions on access, use of resources, use of space, and navigation, such that a similar study can be conducted afterwards with some of the same questions to compare with pre-design answers to measure whether the goals of the project are achieved.

In addition, should the project prove to be successful, the assessment can be used as proof to administration and potential donors to the library to fund further improvements and a larger redesign project.

Possible Further Improvements

As the changes presented take current constraints into consideration, many possible further improvements are recommended in the longer term, particularly with more funding. While not an exhaustive list, possible further improvements include:

  • Purchase of new chairs that are more ergonomic with adjustable seat and height in a neutral colour, such as black, that match redesigned library branches (such as UBC Law Library) and do not distract patrons’ attention (which may be the case with the current strong colours of red and green) (see Appendix C).
  • Ensure computers, especially mice and keyboards, in the quiet study areas are near silent, and purchasing replacements if necessary (see Appendix C).
  • Paint cement walls to remove the ‘cement bunker’ feel.

Consultation will be needed for improvements that require more expert advice and analysis, such as:

  • improving temperature control,
  • minimizing noise from the stairway, and
  • improving the colour scheme.

Currently, the colour scheme uses the additive primary colours of red, green, and blue. However, design colour theory is based on the traditional red, yellow, blue subtractive primaries model.In addition, psychological primary colours suggest that red and green are antagonistic to each other and should not be used together as the human visual system does not respond well to both at the same time.3 As the library already uses a fair amount of neutral and wood colours, the existing blues can be added to with other blues to create a calm and comfortable mood.4 The resulting scheme, may look similar to the following:5
IndigoSilver Colour Scheme
Blue may also be a good choice as it is the UBC school colour. Nevertheless, the particular blues need to be carefully chosen as not to create a cold or depressing colour scheme.6

Future Outlook

Ultimately, the redesign and its goals are to assist the library in fulfilling its mission and vision. While there are many restrictions currently preventing a full redesign, many improvements can still be made to the Education Library with minimal investment. The success of the project should be measured through the use of assessment tools before and after changes, and if successful, the library can garner support from administration and donors to make further augmentations or a full redesign. The space is somewhat flexible and should be planned to accommodate changing and future user demographics and needs, particularly due to rapid growth in technology and campus housing, which may bring more families into the Education library. Thus, more planning should be completed in order to ensure alignment with the strategic plan in the years to come.

Works Cited Endnotes

Note (Sep 2018): All the links appear to be broken. The sites still work but lead to 404s.
1. Chase, C. & Hiltz, S. (2011). Lighting [Class handout]. LIBR 578, School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
2. Tuberman, L. (2008). Color theory. http://leontuberman.hubpages.com/hub/Color-Theory
3. Foster, M. (1897). A text book of physiology. California: Macmillan.
4. Chan, F. & Rocheleau, N. (2011). Colour theory [Class handout]. LIBR 578, School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
5. Indigosilver. (2011). Indigosilver2. ColorSchemer Gallery. http://www.colorschemer.com/schemes/viewscheme.php?id=7373
6. Tuberman, L. (2008). Color characteristics. http://leontuberman.hubpages.com/hub/Color-Characteristics

Evaluating the UBC Catalogue

Disclaimer: This is actually a copy of my assignment for cataloguing class, so I was being as critical as possible within a set page limit. Although it could use a few improvements, there are actually a lot of things I like about the UBC catalogue, but which isn’t reflected in here.

University of British Columbia (UBC) Library Catalogue Evaluation

  • Type: Academic library
  • Size: 6.1 million volumes
  • Key characteristics: Large research and teaching collection, diverse, multilingual, depository, unique subject descriptions for First Nations materials, large digital collection
  • OPAC: Custom on top of Voyager ILS;  Discovery Layer: Summon

Last year, our library, the University of British Columbia (UBC) Library, completed a five year strategic plan. As part of the strategic plan, the library has put focus on advancing research, learning and teaching excellence by putting emphasis on certain values, including services excellence and stewardship of collections and institutional resources. The library’s catalogue is the key resource in order to provide users access to and related services of our physical and e-book collections. Nevertheless, the catalogue can be improved in many ways to help achieve the library’s mission.

Searching & Viewing Records

One of the best features of the catalogue is the number of search and browse options, including call number browsing, subject browsing, and the various search options, in addition to the sorting options of results. However, some of the features do not work as expected and can use improvement.

Some issues are fairly small and can be easily changed, which will improve finding items for users. For example, the brief view shows a blank space next to ‘Author’ if no ‘main author’ exists, but the first or all of the ‘other authors’ can be listed in this case to help users find specific items. Similarly, in full record view, the statement of responsibility is marked as ‘Title’, which may confuse users because it contains more than just the title. Either the label could be changed or removed, or the subfields and punctuation could be used to separate title from contributors. Title keyword search also includes contents, which makes sense in the case that users are searching chapter titles, but this is unlikely what users would expect and will also result in too many results, particularly because it searches the entire contents field, which may include authors. Users should be given the option to include contents.

Item availability also uses unclear terms when there are multiple items, showing ‘multiple holdings available’ even when all or none are available. This feature could be further improved by showing availability in a preferred branch, particularly when filtered for a specific location. Similarly, e-books should be marked ‘online’ or ‘eBook’ (to match the Summon display)  instead of ‘no item information, ONLINE’ as if somehow implying that the item is not ‘in’ the library, and a separate filter should be available instead of showing online and physical books when choosing a specific location.

Perhaps one of the most critical issues is the sorting of results by publication date. At times it is incorrect due to the lack of a subfield resulting in incorrect order, such as:

260__  |b Four Worlds International Institute for Human and Community Development  |c Lethbridge, Alberta: 1998 (bid: 2836032)[1]

Another reason for records seeming to be out of order is because the sorting seems to be based on manufacture date, but the display shows the publication date such that the following is among 2011:

260__  |a [Ottawa, Ont.] :  |b [Interagency Secretariat on Research Ethics],  |c 2010  |e (Saint-Lazare, Quebec :  |f Canadian Electronic Library,  |g 2011). (bid: 5031001)

From the user’s perspective, the edition or publication date is likely to be of more importance and sorting by the subfield $c (instead of $g) would provide a displayed order that would not be confusing. However, even taking into these factors into account, there seems to be no consistent order, particularly with records that have no publication date. When in ascending order, the items with no dates are interspersed with those with dates, and some records will show out of order, such as:

260__ |c 2002 (bid: 2822328) above 260__ |b Brock University  |c 1996 (bid: 2835632)

Descending works better, but when users see one sort function not working, they may assume others do not function either, and may be deterred from using the catalogue again in either case.

Marginalized Collections Needing Improvement

While catalogue records are overall well formed, some collections (where there may not be full copy catalogue records) are lacking in comparison. For example, English non-fiction records are overall of high quality, particularly new titles, most of which have tables of contents. When the contents are detailed, the contents need to be well formatted, which is one area that could be improved upon for easier reading, or some of the content could be stripped in cases, such as:

… Chapter 1 : number relationships / senior author and senior consultant, Marian Small ; student book authors, Jack Hope … [et al.] ; teacher’s resource chapter authors, Jason Chenier, Katherine Pratt ; assessment consultants, Sandra Carl Townsend, Gerry Varty… (bid: 4005625).

There are also some cases where minor errors occur, such as extra punctuation at the end of a note, but none which may significantly impact a user’s experience. The records are also generally up to date with most records being last updated in 2008 even for older items (e.g. bid: 1651678 from 1902).

In comparison, records for the non-fiction First Nations collection are generally very brief. Although some exceptions exist with electronic or new popular non-fiction books, contents are frequently empty, or contain partial contents (only 1-3 lines), often poorly formatted. Records for First Nations resources are also more likely to have multiple records for the same work, where duplicate records have only minor differences, such as First Nations education policy in Canada  (bid: 4598655 & 4598483) where only contents differ in format. An addition which would greatly improve the use of the catalogue for the collection would be to make the local subject access fields (690), such as:


browsable, listing all items for a subject as with other subject access points . It is particularly important for these records to be well maintained as the library promotes unique services and subject descriptors for the First Nations collection in support of the growing First Nations programs at the university.

Similarly, French non-fiction records tend to be somewhat brief with sparse or non-existent contents even for new works with the exception of electronic monographs. Many of the French works only have one or two subject access points, and while rare, some have none at all (e.g. L’évaluation formative des apprentissages en français, langue seconde bid: 2697408). Errors are also frequent, particularly with series entries, such as:

 830 _0 |a Bibliothèque française et romane. Sér. D: Initiation, textes et documents ;  |v 5 (bid: 1430529)

which is missing the part subfield, $p, resulting in a narrower series search. Another example:

 830 _0  |a Bibliothèque française et romane. Sér. A: Manuels et études linguisitiques, 14. (bid: 1879073)

is not subfielded at all, resulting in a series search which would include the volume number.

More problematic is that few records use uniform title, only variant titles or notes. Although a title or variant title search may not be a problem with multiple editions, the lack of uniform title is especially a problem with translations, which is more prominent in the French collection as many monographs are translations from other languages. While a French title may have a note specifying it is a translation, such as with Enseigner la lecture : revenir a` l’essentiel (bid: 3807358), the reverse is not true, meaning the user cannot search for or even know of translations of a text except possibly by searching or browsing by author. In addition, some records do not have a note of the original work name, particularly in the case that the original work is not in English, such as with Spinoza contre Kant, et la cause de la verité spirituelle (bid: 1656761) which is a translation of Spinoza und sein Kreis : historisch-kritische Studien u¨ber holla¨ndische Freigeister (bid: 1656978). Furthermore, French titles must be searched with diacritics and will provide incorrect results otherwise, inconveniencing searchers.


To summarize, the following actions are recommended:

  • Check for and merge duplicate records
  • Check for consistent and correct use of subfields, particularly when copy cataloguing
  • Improve records in currently marginalized collections
  • Use uniform titles when appropriate
  • Make all subject access points browsable, including local First Nations subjects
  • Make display and search for user friendly:
    • Always show author names, not only when it is a principal access point
    • Show simply ‘online’ or ‘eBook’ for location of electronic monographs
    • Change or remove ‘title’ label in full record view
    • Provide option for user to search chapter titles or contents in ‘title keyword’ search
    • Change availability to show preferred or filtered location
    • Fix publication sort and change to publication date (instead of manufacture date)
    • Allow searching with and without diacritics in all languages

While not all of these actions are feasible, particularly in the short term, many of the recommendations can be implemented over time, integrated into the workflow or as part of catalogue maintenance.

Possible Solution

While the catalogue could use many improvements, many have to do with the interface in terms of display and searching. Rather than putting effort into implementing the related recommendations, time and resources could be focused on ameliorating the MARC records for use in the web discovery layer, Summon. The data from our MARC records operate well with Summon, which already properly organizes by date and filters by location without online resources and shows location with available item first. While it does not have all the features of the OPAC, it may be possible to add them. Furthermore, Summon has a mobile version, allowing greater, more flexible access to our records.

[1] Refers to the bib record ID in the permanent URL, http://resolve.library.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/catsearch?bid=

New UBC Law Library Tour

We went to visit the new UBC Law Library as part of our planning and design class, and the librarian involved with the building project was also kind enough to give us a talk on the process.

Gone with the Old, In with the New

It was great to see the new law building, especially having visited the old one. The old building was called a “Concrete Bunker” because it really did look like one. The building was in such poor state. The roof was leaky, the water would run on the inside walls, and the building was famous for having buckets lining the halls! So, a new law building has been a long time coming, and it’s definitely a big improvement.

Collection Development

Moving is always a good opportunity to weed. Other than weeding, the staff also took on the big project to reclassify a lot of the material that was not already in LC classification.


Some might consider shelving boring, but the details that goes into making such a simple choice is quite interesting. For one, a careful choice was made on the type of compact shelving to use. The chosen one is very easy to use, manual, and seems to be magnetic (and having used electronic ones, I prefer manual). Careful measurements were also made since they were smaller than regular shelving (33″ as opposed to 36″) in order to accommodate all the books with fill space.

The open stacks shelving was the standard 36″ in a nice wood with lighting that went across (perpendicular) instead of in between (parallel) the shelves. The shelves were also filled with approximately a 50% fill, but of course it differed depending on the section from 20-70%. You can see how neat it looks right now because of the careful calculations done by the librarian.

The reference area also has shelves with a built-in mini-table at the end of each end for convenience.

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Reading, Study, & Computer Spaces

There are various areas for reading and studying. There is the big reading room and each floor also has a couple of smaller areas with lower reading love-seats. The top floor primarily has study carrels, but the open type instead of the closed ones (divider on three sides). On the second floor, there is a computer lab area with a print room, next to the teaching room. The reference room also has long tables with chairs where you can study.

Making a Space Pleasant

A lot of what I liked about the library was the pleasantness of it. The lighting was nice (it points towards the ceiling so it’s not direct), the high ceilings with the stained glass, the stairs (are kind of a shiny granite) and the artwork. There are no paintings or sculptures, but there are the stone backgrounds to the signs for example. My favourite piece was the donor “wall” just in front of the entrance which was actually made of glass balls with names written on them.

Overall, it was just a very pleasant space with some nice views whether looking back in the building or to the outside.

About Portal

So the About portal really was just a redesign for the most part. The process was the usual inventory of pages of the current About section (see below left), trying to put them into cateogries, then coming up with a preliminary information architecture. For this portal, we also consulted with the Communications department to ask about what else might be added.

Attempt #1
The first attempt at the redesign was to use the existing design from the Help and Services portals (see above right). If you look at the full version, you can tell that the problem with using the existing design is that there is a lot of white space since each category only has 2-4 links. Everyone, who looked at this first attempt, agreed that it just didn’t work. We concluded though that since the About portal didn’t serve the same sort of purpose as Help, Services, and Find, it would be okay to use a different design. So, it was back to the drawing board.

Attempt #2
When thinking about how we might do another design, one of the ideas was to somehow bring the University Librarian’s message back to the foreground. We essentially ended up with the layout of the old design, just with the set of links organized in the new way. This didn’t work either since the navigation of the portal was essentially lost.

Attempt #3
Finally, I thought perhaps we could go with a simpler design. I looked at a bunch of other sites (library and otherwise) to see how they dealt with the layout and organization of their About sections. Based on those layouts and suggestions from others, we came up with the current design.

screenshot of current about
New About

The new About design uses the same organization as in the first version, but simply lays out all the links underneath a heading. It also has the first two paragraphs of the university librarian’s message, where if you click on the title, you will see the full message. We agreed that this was a nice balance between the first and second attempts.

Contact Us page
Most pages/posts were simply moved over, but all were in agreement that the Contact Us page needed a redesign. So, a redesign it was. We felt that the old page had too many links (all users who saw this page during the usability test said as much), especially since a lot of these links exist elsewhere on the site (namely on the Services Portal) and the front page as well in many cases. A couple of the forms were merged or updated to par down the number of links further.

Migration of all the pages have been done and everything has been setup, but since the Newsletters were moved into Issuu, issues were embedded to posts (which worked fine), but then didn’t show up on aggregated pages (the embedded object would just be stripped out). Styling has yet to be done as well. Hopefully it’ll be live soon though.

The Ever Changing Project and Timeline

The Original Project
Not many people know, but when I began my current project/job, I was hired to revamp the Instructional Resources pages of the library website. Essentially, it was two pages. That’s right, two.

The Growing Project
Of course, trying to compile a list of all the instructional resources at such a large university still took a long time. And since part of the goal was to centralize these tutorials into one place and also migrate them to wiki, a whole web portal came out of it, which of course involved various staff and committees. The idea was to get it all done by the end of summer, but of course, because the tutorials also needed updating, that didn’t happen. To date, we have not migrated even half of the Help portal (of the list you see under Finding, only Journal Articles comes from the wiki). Nevertheless, we launched the portal page itself.

Redesigned Help Portal
Current Help Portal

The New (Related) Project
Out of my work on the one portal grew the plan for another portal, the purpose of which was to list the services the library provide. Our library has apparently never had such a page, which seemed odd to me, but true (I had never known of a page like that in all my time here).

Interestingly, this portal had much more user testing than consultation with others, because it was putting together a new portal and would not affect any existing parts of the website. We also rethought the design so that we minimize the amount of screen space we’d be using and in our testing, we found people had no problems with the navigation and those who tended to skim through pages found this design better/more useful than the older Help portal design, because they were forced to read the headings to move further on, and thus were more likely to read them than to skim.

Services Portal screenshot
Current Services Portal

Although some pages have yet to be migrated into WordPress/wiki, most of it is done even if it’s not all public. We prefer not to change things so close to the end of term (especially since some of them are really popular pages) and there’s a bug or two that need to be fixed with the WordPress pages. Soon though, I hope.

Two More Projects
So with Services launched, the plan for this term was basically the rest of the main site minus the home page (and Branches since that only really needs a migration). One is the Find Portal to replace the current navigation of Catalogues/Journals/E-Resources, and the other is About Portal to replace the current About Us section.

Ever Changing Timeline
It became fairly clear a few weeks ago that due to the need to prioritize other projects, my co-worker was not going to be available to do usability testing for the two new portals. After discussions with my supervisor, we decided that we’d have to push the timeline back for testing and we could really only go as far as preparing for it. Nevertheless, we’ll be pushing forward with About since that’s an area that is not used quite so much by our users and most of the decisions would come from other divisions. Find will go as far as a prototype site with preparation for usability testing.

Find Portal prototype screenshot
Find Portal prototype

Unfortunately, I struggled with the organization of the Find Portal, so another look will be needed before and after usability testing.

Here’s hoping that the new timeline goes through.

Ever Continuing Projects
So, beyond launching the actual portal pages, a lot of work has continued with migrating everything to WordPress and encourage staff to help update existing pages or provide us with new content. As I mentioned, much of Help is still simply linking to old pages (some were so out of date, we had to take them down), but Services is moving along and I hope to get it all done by the end of next month. Nevertheless, as all websites, it’ll be continual project that will be taken up by the rest of the team (and perhaps a new co-op student in the summer).

Update on New Web Portals

Apologies for the lack of updates, but although I’ve been fairly busy, there hasn’t been much to report on.  I’ve mostly been busy migrating old pages, consulting with others, providing wiki workshops, and preparing for the new portals.

So far, I’ve done a content analysis, much like before, by doing an inventory and looking at what to keep, consulting with various people to see what we might add, and developed an IA for the two based on the inventory and consultation. Things have been a little slow to develop because my co-worker is on vacation, but it’s coming!

We will not be doing pre-design usability testing as we did before (i.e. no card sorts), because we just don’t feel that the two portals in development warrant it.  Instead, we’ll be focusing on usability testing after the prototypes are completed.  Most likely, it will be a focus group, since they’re not very suitable for task oriented usability testing.

That’s it for now I think, will post some more updates later!

Launch of Help

So with the launch of help today, it will mean a redesigned section of the website. The key things we were going for:

  • clean & easy to read
  • consistent look & feel
  • standardizing some of the content
  • organization that makes sense to users
  • providing a design that gives a primary, secondary, and tertiary focus

This was the original main page, which was just a bunch of links which were not very well organized after the years of simply adding things compared to the new main page.

We took out the “Ask Us” from the main navigation bar and put it in a site wide side button, which many new sites are doing with feedback buttons. We also took out a mouse over menu from the main navigation bar that was a user guide type of page depending on the patron’s role (“Services for You”).

We moved those onto the Help page as well and linked to new versions with more or less the same content, but with some of it standardized and with a common look and tab navigation.

I like it and thinks it looks way better than before. Plus I think it’ll help our users find stuff!

EDIT: We received a lot of positive feedback! Yay!