Over the course of Spring 2014 I worked with a team of 8 to apply UX methods on various resources for NYU Libraries. Being assigned a usability specialist, my role was to help with determining testing methods, recruiting users for studies, and moderate sessions, among other tasks. The main project I was involved in assessing NYU Libraries’ LibGuides, which is a CMS used to host guides for various needs.
During this time, LibGuides was about to release Version 2 of their platform, which included responsive layouts, tabs on the left side, among other features. NYU Libraries was preparing to migrate their guides to this version so we wanted to research and test how the current guides are functioning.
The NYU Libraries LibGuides interface was in need of a redesign and detecting the pain points that caused usability issues. We determined that our goal was to learn about student research behavior and to learn what students’ perspectives of the guides are, as well as their experience using them. Additionally, we discussed that our recommendations should address best practices to ensure guides are easy to create and update.
Since not much usability testing has been done on LibGuides, we started by doing some research on how other academic libraries have gone about it and looking at the resources they cited in their studies.
After discussing a few methods of testing we decided on a focus group, which would allow us to have a conversation with a group of students about how they research, and guerrilla testing (which we nicknamed speed dating) to get a deeper understanding about how the guides are used.
We conducted a small focus group with four participants where we asked about their research process and then explored the NYU Libraries LibGuides interface together and chose a few guides to navigate.
Guerrilla Speed Dating
To get an even better understanding of how NYU Libraries users interact with the guides, we set up a table at the Bobst Library atrium with two laptops and granola bars as incentives for 5 minutes of their time. We were able to get 26 users in one hour.
Most of our findings had to do with issues with navigability and layout. Since we couldn’t yet address issues regarding information seeking behavior, our recommendations focused on making each guide easier to navigate (such as opening all external links in new tabs) and decreasing the cognitive load by limiting the number of tabs and modules. We created a style guide within LibGuides Version 2 to further illustrate our recommendations.
A more detailed account of my work at NYU libraries can be found at SLA NY where I wrote a post titled, UX in Libraries with a Case Study at NYU Libraries
The full reports for all projects are available for download: