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CIL2010: Website Redesign: Georgetown University
Kristina Bobe, Stephen Fernie, Shian-Chih Chang, & William Wheeler from Georgetown University

Their new design was user-centered, not staff-centered.  They wanted to create a design that helped users help themselves.  How can I get help?  What hours are you open?  Simple questions.  Focusing on a process with users as the focus was a change for the library.

Master Task List: Know your users.  How are they searching?  What do they want to find?  They did some simple user task analysis by writing down questions that people had, what content was on the website, on little pieces of paper and tacking it up on a bulletin board.  They came up with a master task list that helped them develop the website’s new navigation.  Then staff looked at the map of content and figured out where things were missing or where they were misplaced.

Usability: They asked many students the various questions for sample invented tasks (e.g. “You have an assignment on Ghana.  Where do you start?”)  They tracked the clicks users made, and asked them why they clicked there and what they expected to find there.  What they found was information about how users think about link naming and the location of links.  They tested it on a group, refined their content, and re-tested it.  They went through 10-12 iterations of testing throughout a 19 month redesign process.  Also, they were happy to have hard evidence about what users want and how they think.  That helped to settle some of the battles over the website among the staff.

Content Management: They chose Drupal for their CMS.  Drupal is extremely flexible with open source advantages and an active development community.  There is a lot of customization that needs to take place with Drupal.  Their site is running 30 different modules, which makes implementing new things challenging sometimes.

Subject Guides: They chose to use LibData for their subject guide management system.   It’s built on Apache, MySQL, and PHP.  Previous subject guides were managed in ColdFusion and were not very flexible or importable.  They wanted a new system that was easy for the librarians to manage and had exportable data.  They wanted something with an accessible database back-end.  They made the guides more visible from the homepage as well with multiple pathways based on user need — not category of resource.

Communication: They created a wiki for communication about the website redesign.  It enabled documentation and communication on and off campus, replacing three different other intranet sites/services.  People were used to doing things their own way and needed constant reminders that things were on the wiki.  There was also the feeling among staff that they were fatigued by having one more place to check for something.  Just make decisions about technology and go forward.  Task analysis is fundamentally important.  Task analysis should not be guesswork and should not be anecdotally based.  You need to communicate with people both in-person and via online means.  They feel overall that they made an important step forward but they’ve illuminated some more future needs as well as a result.

CIL2010, computers in libraries

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