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Overcoming the Challenges to Creating an Online User Experience

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The modern library web environment consists of multiple content sources and applications that perform essential functions that often overlap and could potentially create a fractured user experience. For example, content in a library’s website may be replicated in LibGuides, blogs, a knowledge base, or even a course management system like Blackboard. Search functionality in a discovery platform may be replicated in a federated search tool or the ILS OPAC. What's even more challenging is that all these tools might be managed by different departments within your library. This presentation will highlight the technical and political challenges to building a single web experience for users and really focus on how to overcome these challenges.

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Overcoming the Challenges to Creating an Online User Experience

  1. 1. Overcoming the Challenges to Creating a Single Online User ExperienceRachel Vacek, Amigos Conference -Head of Web Services Technology: UnexpectedUniversity of Houston Consequences of LegislationLibraries and Policies in Libraries@vacekrae February 8. 2012#amigostech
  2. 2. Poll #1 What area do you work in within your library? • Systems/Web/ER/ILS • Reference/Public Service • Technical Services/Cataloging • Access/Circulation/ILL • Administration • Other@vacekrae #amigostech
  3. 3. Overview • Examine today’s challenges of managing library websites • Understand what a single online user experience means • Learn tips for overcoming these challenges@vacekrae #amigostech
  4. 4. What are the challenges?@vacekrae #amigostech
  5. 5. Multiple Applications@vacekrae #amigostech
  6. 6. Poll #2How many different applications are integratedwithin your website?• 1-5• 6-10• 11-15• More than 15@vacekrae #amigostech
  7. 7. Poll #3Who manages each of those applicationsintegrated into your website?• Each application is managed by a different individual/department/committee• Multiple individuals/departments/committees manage multiple applications• One individual/department/committee manages all of the applications@vacekrae #amigostech
  8. 8. Multiple Access Points@vacekrae #amigostech
  9. 9. Plethora of Access Points • info.lib.uh.edu • archon.lib.uh.edu • library.uh.edu • uh.edu/library • guides.lib.uh.edu • uh.edu/libraries • digital.lib.uh.edu • lws.uh.edu • search.lib.uh.edu • login.ezproxy.lib.uh.edu • weblogs.lib.uh.edu • illiad.lib.uh.edu • ask.lib.uh.edu@vacekrae #amigostech
  10. 10. Branding • Library branding • Overarching institutional branding • Logos • Colors • Fonts • Functionality • Consistency between virtual & physical branding@vacekrae #amigostech
  11. 11. @vacekrae #amigostech
  12. 12. Proprietary products can be difficult to customize in a uniform way@vacekrae #amigostech
  13. 13. Different Library Types • Academic • School libraries • Public libraries • Special Libraries – Business – Law – Medical – etc.@vacekrae #amigostech
  14. 14. Multiple Sources for Content Creation • Website CMS • Mobile website CMS • LibGuides • LibAnswers • Blogs …And multiple people throughout the library create that content@vacekrae #amigostech
  15. 15. Organizational Politics Applications might be administered by different departments • Public/Access/Liaison Services – Guides, IM/virtual reference – Blogs/social media/communication channels – ILL/reserves • Technical Services – Catalog – Discovery layer@vacekrae #amigostech
  16. 16. Organizational Politics • Special Collections/Digital Services – Finding aid tool – Local/institutional repository • Information Technology Services – Server/website access – Network/user accounts@vacekrae #amigostech
  17. 17. Assessment Tools Google Analytics Can apply these across your library’s Transaction logs web presence Click Analytics Analytics from Database A separate sources Database B can be challenging to compare Database C@vacekrae #amigostech
  18. 18. Programming Resources • In-house (or community-contributed) custom programming can help hide the seams • Too few libraries have advanced programming knowledge or skills in-house • While this is changing in larger organizations, some smaller libraries will not be able to hire a programmer for the foreseeable future, if ever@vacekrae #amigostech
  19. 19. Where is the user? Example: User looks for an article from home Link Library Discovery Resolver Database Full-textWebsite Layer (Serials (various) article(Drupal) (Summon) Solutions)@vacekrae #amigostech
  20. 20. @vacekrae #amigostech
  21. 21. Enough is enough!@vacekrae #amigostech
  22. 22. What is a single user experience?@vacekrae #amigostech
  23. 23. Poll #4 Does someone in your library oversee the entire web presence? • Yes, an individual • Yes, a department, team, or committee • No, each person or department manages their own section • Not sure@vacekrae #amigostech
  24. 24. User Experience (UX) • Accessibility • Information Architecture • Interaction design • Writing for the web • Usability and usefulness testing • User research • Visual design • Web analytics@vacekrae #amigostech
  25. 25. Single User Experience Apply UX concepts across your website’s multiple applications andcontent sources so users feel like they are interacting with a single website
  26. 26. Interface, branding and functionality should be familiar across systems@vacekrae #amigostech
  27. 27. Single UX isn’t easy 1 website = 1 UXComplexity 1 website with multiple applications integrated well = 1 UX 1 website with multiple applications not well integrated = Multiple UX Multiple UX across 1 website = Confused users @vacekrae #amigostech
  28. 28. How to get there@vacekrae #amigostech
  29. 29. Tip #1: Ask questions • What is the purpose of the website? • What is the purpose of each section of the site? • Who is the audience? • Is the branding and content presented consistently across every application? • Is the functionality associated with each user behavior presented consistently?@vacekrae #amigostech
  30. 30. Tip #2: Create content style guides • Provide consistency • Clear up confusion among multiple contributors • Resolve questions on frequently problematic elements like abbreviations, capitalization, tone, brand, naming conventions – Rockwell Pavilion vs. EDR Pavilion – User vs. patron – Website vs. web site@vacekrae #amigostech
  31. 31. Tip #3: Create consistent brand• Establish a plan for using: – Fonts – Colors – Logos• Create consistent user expectations@vacekrae #amigostech
  32. 32. Tip #4: Create a consistent social media presence • Branding • Be frequent • Voice • Integrate where • Be engaging appropriate@vacekrae #amigostech
  33. 33. Tip #4: Take advantage of APIs • Some APIs allow for complex interactions, others just permit widget construction • Most ILSs, institutional repositories and discovery platforms provide APIs • Many content management systems also have APIs • Structured data coupled with APIs means content can more easily be pulled across multiple platforms • Helps to prevent duplicative work@vacekrae #amigostech
  34. 34. Tip #5: Create appearance of uniformity • Start with high impact, low effort projects • Use consistent branding • Streamline the data sources you control • Try to employ similar functionality across applications@vacekrae #amigostech
  35. 35. Tip #6: Play the politics game • Create buy-in from all stakeholders when making decisions about a web application • Some people can be territorial about the systems they manage, but remember you are working together to provide the best services you can for your library • Try to get involved in all decisions about the services your library offers on the web • Accept the limitations of your environment – Tech skills – Staffing – Funding – Time@vacekrae #amigostech
  36. 36. Tip #7: Be nice to others • If you aren’t the manager of an application that is integrated into the library’s website, it means that you will have to work closely with others • Not everyone will grasp the importance of a single UX – help them to understand@vacekrae #amigostech
  37. 37. Tip #8: Research before you buy • Is the user interface customizable? • Are there APIs available? • Can you push out or pull in structured data? • How is the customer support? • Is there an open source version of the application? • Are many other libraries using this application? • How will this application integrate with the other existing systems?@vacekrae #amigostech
  38. 38. Is a cohesivesingle userexperienceeven possible?Yes, but it’s not easy.@vacekrae #amigostech
  39. 39. Thanks!Rachel VacekHead of Web ServicesUniversity of Houston Librariesvacekrae@gmail.comPresentation also available onhttp://www.slideshare.net/vacekrae@vacekrae #amigostech