Anthony Chow, Ph.D. – UNCG Library and Information Studies Dept. Christian Burris – Head of Serials, Wake Forest University Michelle Bridges – School Librarian, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Patricia Commander – Health Sciences Librarian, WSSU What Does a Typical Library Website Look Like?
Overview • Study Introduction • Literature Review • Research Method • Findings • Discussion and Recommendations
Introduction What does a typical library website look like? • We decided to ask ! • Our nationwide study involved all academic and public libraries from all 50 states examining website design, layout, content, and site management.
Literature • Websites are akin to exits off a main freeway, a promise of potential adventure and intrigue and have less time than ever, as little as 25-35 seconds (Nielsen & Loranger, 2006) • In reviewing the literature, there have been many studies describing usability testing and research done on singular institutional websites for one individual library; broad studies focusing on public and academic libraries, however, are not common
Literature (2) • Liu (2009) also made a list of innovative features of website and found that 30 libraries had RSS feeds, four had personalized library spaces, and almost all had live chat as a reference communication tool. • Solomon (2005) conducted a survey of public library websites in Ohio, using a checklist of 61 usability guidelines, features and content. Overall Solomon found that only 35 of the 211 websites surveyed met 80% of her criteria and she noted that important features were missing such as privacy policies, site searches, and feedback mechanisms.
Literature (3) • Usability studies have shown that creating websites with usability guidelines are important as, “patrons who cannot successfully complete specific tasks may not revisit the site” (Chen et al 2009, 963). • Connell (2008) found from a survey of web developers in academic libraries that only 46.8% of them had conducted usability testing of any kind on their websites
Literature (4) • Usability & Usability Testing • ISO 9241-11 (1998): The effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments (ISO, 1998). • Utility and Ease-of-Use (Nielsen, 2001) • User-Centered Design (UCD; ) or human centered design • “development proceeds with the user as the center of focus” (Rubin, 1984).
Literature (5) • King (2003) suggests that you first envision your site as a business with information being the product. “…usability studies play a vital role in making sure library users can find information on your Web site quickly and accurately” (p. 13). • Liu (2009) found that "the universe of information presented on academic library homepages still focuses on library functions, requires numerous pathways for access, has overwhelming options, and takes a 'one-design-for-all' approach that fails to recognize users as individuals"(11).
Research Questions • A comprehensive review of the literature revealed no large scale study had been conducted to determine the current state of academic and public library websites • RQ1: What is a standard design layout for academic and public library websites? • RQ2: What are the common features and content academic and public library websites include? • RQ3: Who designs and maintains academic and public library websites? • RQ4: To what extent do academic and public library websites adhere to recommended design guidelines?
Method • 1,469 websites were analyzed for the study • The Library Website Usability Checklist (n=203) • Systematic evaluations of randomly selected sites • The Library Website Survey (n=1,266) • Self-reports from the nation’s libraries
Method (2) • The Library Website Usability Checklist (n=203) • 67 questions divided into five discrete sections – site information, recommended website features, content, feature placement, and recommended information architecture and usability factors • four library websites from each state and the District of Columbia stratified into four categories: one rural public library, one urban public library, one private academic library, and one public academic library.
Method (3) • The instrument was comprised of a total of 44 questions broken down into five sections – general information (4), web design and management (5) , feature checklist (5), content (22), and page location and placement (8). • Over three quarters (76.9%) of our responding libraries were public libraries, while only 23.1% were academic libraries • Breakdown of patron-bases served
Conclusions & Recommendations • Library websites had excellent results for the standard contents only • Web 2.0 tools were not found on 25.2% of the libraries surveyed in the LWUC and on 73.6% of the libraries in the LWES • 40-60% of library websites did not provide access to their special collections via their websites
Typical library web design • RQ1: What is a standard design layout for academic and public library websites?
Typical Content • RQ2: What are the common features and content academic and public library websites include?
Answers to Research Questions • RQ3: Who designs and maintains academic and public library websites?
Answers to Research Questions • RQ4: To what extent do academic and public library websites adhere to recommended design guidelines?
Conclusions and Recommendations • Information and Content is good (80% favorable rating from evaluators) • ‘snap-shot’ of library website design, content, maintenance, and usability • Main findings: • Content: Search feature, feedback, Web 2.0 features (RSS feeds, social networking, ability to state opinions or be content creators), virtual reference services, location and contact information • Design: Logo is left top header, navigation is side left, contact information is bottom center, and search box (when available) top right. • Usability: Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Satisfaction need to be designed in and frequently tested.
Thank You!! Much of these findings are in new book Library Technology and User Services (Chow & Bucknall, 2008) coming out in November 2011. • Anthony Chow email@example.com anthonyschow.wordpress.com • Christian Burris firstname.lastname@example.org
Liu, S. 2008. Engaging users: The future of academic library websites. College and Research Libraries, 69(1), 6-27. References • Chen, Y.H., Germain, C.A. and Yang, H. (2009). An exploration into the • practices of library web usability in ARL academic libraries. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(5), 953-968. • Connell, R. S. (2008). Survey of web developers in academic libraries. The • Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(2), 121-129. • User Focus (2011). ISO standard 9241-11. Retrieved from • http://www.userfocus.co.uk/resources/iso9241/part11.html on June 10, 2011. • King, D. (2003). The Mom-and-Pop Shop Approach to Usability Studies. • (Cover story). Computers in Libraries, 23(1), 12. • Liu, S. 2008. Engaging users: The future of academic library websites. • College and Research Libraries, 69(1), 6-27. • Nielsen & Loranger (2006). Prioritizing Web Usability. Berkeley, CA: New • Riders • Rubin, J. (1984). Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and • Conduct Effective Tests. Hoboken, NJ : Wiley and Sons • Solomon, L. 2005. Sinking or swimming? The state of web sites in Ohio’s • public libraries. Retrieved from http://www.designforthelittleguy.com/study.pdf. • Wc3. Notes on User-Center Design Process. Retrieved from • http://www.w3.org/WAI/redesign/ucd on June 11, 2011.