Monday, April 12, 2010

Well-Organized Sites & Portals

My raw notes from the last session I attended today (though I haven't posted my Google Wave notes - sorry, out of order):

Well-Organized Sites and Portals
Chris Jasek, User-Centered Design Portfolio Manager, Elsevier
has a Master's in Human Factors

background of research
- as publisher, wanted to know how products were being accessed thru libraries
-- literature research
-- user research
-- reviews of library websites
-- free consultations

well-organized? what does that mean?
tip of iceberg (visual perceptions)
- layout
- visual dsign
- perception

below the surface:
- user's mental model
- user's tasks
- intuition
"People don't come to a website to admire it, they come to get work done"

well-organized? from who's perspective?
- librarian persona
- surgical nursing student persona
Tasks & Pain Points for each

5 steps to a well-organized site
1. (most important) Research users. Understand their needs & tasks.
for Elsevier:
(a) conduct research to find journals,a rticles, books
(b) find course materials (lecture notes, etc.)
(c) find user account info (e.g., checked-out books)
(d) find info about library (locations, hours)
(e) get help in using the library or library website
"the biggest mistake is not giving enough space to the task 85% of the people come to the site for"

- users want multiple ways to look for info (e.g., name, subject, type of material, course)
- users want detail (descriptions, fulltext?, access restrictions, "best bets")
- users want help in recovering from wrong path & additional ideas to find more
offer cross/related linking
- users want terminology they understand
- opac (should be find books)
- A&I databases (should be find journal articles
- MOST IMPORTANT - test with your own users
- users want speed
- have no time to wait - website performance
- search needs to work flawlessly & simply, like Google

Survey other sites
- what do otehr sites offer?
- other library sites
- sites in other industries
- examples of latest tech

- use page real estate wisely (key tasks get most/prime space - top upper left)
- minimize the number of clicks
- use consistent navigation (lessen confusion, build familiarity)
- treat links according to conventions (consistently throughout site)
- use consistent elements (fonts, layouts)
- use few colors / minimal graphics (avoid circuslike, unprofessional appearance)
- provide help link on every page (text, video, chat, helps save support time / cost)
- make your site accessible to all users (W3C accessibility recommendations)

- Feedback from your own users is key (offer stakeholders opportunity to observe user testing)
- do user testing all the way through design process
- conducting usability studies is affordable and easy (observation is best, informal studies work well)
- usage tracking also important (google analytics) (though be careful of interpretations)
- focus groups/interviews aren't the best predictors, because what they say & really feel are two different things

- Identify problems, not solutions
people often jump directly to 1 solution to avoid true problem
instead generate a whole field of solutions to test alternatives & find best
- multiple, manageable iterations are important
improvements with each iteration
you are never done (because tech changes, users change, expectations change)

"Now, go make your users smile"
pamphlet on how to design library websites to maximize usability - will be posted on conf website


Emily Shem-Tov, Goldmine Program Manager, Adobe
Information Resources Group, part of Market Research group, part of Global Market Research

overarching theme that brings team together
- extending our reach
- raisng the bar
- sharpening our focus
- building connections
Annual campaigns of this library group she's a part of
- supporting pillars
- specific measurable goals
A living document - will it help us meet those themes/goals
End of year evaluation of whether or not met goals/objectives

- internal, 39K+docs (in PDF, of course - it's Adobe)
- news feeds
- full-text search, flex-based search results (had to overlay Ultraseek with Flex to get higher-level functionality)
- browseable topics
- tailored entry pages for different business units, functional depts., hot topics
- email alerts, RSS feeds, saved searches, social bookmarks
- links to other licensed resources

3 steps to portal
1. planning (user research, surveys, roadmap, design)
2. development (search engine, CMS, taxonomy, tools & features)
3. promotion (marketing, training, tracking)

Goldmine Taxonomy & CMS
- totally customized for our audience & content
- over 1100 topics
- imported into custom CMS
- reviewed quarterly by team
browse & search are both working together

still have a physical library
added a lot of ebooks recently (overdrive, springer)
Sirsi library catalog
digital collections integrated into catalog

A LOT OF MARKETING & OUTREACH, especially on internal blog

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